Burn the Whitewater Oak Opening!

It’s been another busy burn season in the Kettle Moraine State Forest — Southern Unit.  The biggest burn unit was 1,110 acres in the Scuppernong River Habitat Area stretching north from Hwy 59 and west of Hwy N, just a bit west of Eagle.

The crew from the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation focuses on the State Natural Areas but during burn seasons they jump in where ever they are needed.  Last Saturday, May 10, they burned the Whitewater Oak Opening SNA, which contains a unit of the Clifford F Messinger Dry Prairie & Savanna SNA.

Zach Kastern turned me on to this area last September.

As the team gathered from working on the firebreaks, you could sense that this might be the last burn of the year and they were determined to make it a good one. Nate Fayram was the burn boss.

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Here is the burn unit.

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The terrain is classic Kettle Moraine!

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Nate thoroughly reviewed all aspects of the burn plan with the team, which consisted of DNR veterans: Jessica Renley, Kevin Doyle, Adam Stone, Jared Urban, Alex Wenthe, Bridget Rathman and volunteers: Gary BirchBen Johnson and myself.

Defending private property within the burn unit was the highest priority.

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I worked the drip torch all day and there is definitely an art to efficiently delivering the flaming drops of diesel and gas.

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We got a nice little head fire running up the hill in this area somewhere between points E and G.

Black zone along Highway P.

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We tied in the lines near point K at around 5:05pm and then proceeded to burn out the interior.  The fire didn’t always carry over the moraines or deep into the kettles so we had to crisscross the interior with our drip torches to complete the burn.  I was really pooped from going up and down the steep moraines and it was sweet to be released after my drip torch was emptied for the last time.

I parked my truck where Easterly Rd meets Kettle Moraine Drive at point C and took a walk into the burn unit.

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I got up on a high ridge overlooking one of the hillside prairies and I could hear their chainsaws whining as they took down burning snags; they were still hard at work!

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Jared Urban would monitor the burn unit all night and Nate planned to return in the morning to complete the mop up.  We are lucky to have such a hard working and dedicated DNR team taking care of our State Natural Areas!

See you at The Springs!

One thought on “Burn the Whitewater Oak Opening!

  1. Pingback: Flower Power | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

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