March 2022

View from the Crew
by Sarah Wilson

Burn season has begun! Even with my cracked and blurry camera, it is hopefully easy to see why this natural phenomena makes for a favorite time of year for many of the crew. Here, Shelby Holsinger takes in the view after the fire at Rahn CRP. 3/5/22
The view of LaGrange County Parks’ Duff Lake fen from the southwest corner before we put fire to the ground. On such a beautiful day as this one, I’m reminded why this is one of my favorite properties on which to work. 3/16/22
From acorns to oaks. Many newly “hatched” acorns were found at Duff Lake fen. 3/16/22
A few hours later, a tired ATV and an even more tired crew look over a freshly burnt Duff Lake from the northeast corner. Notice the refugia (unburnt habitat) we intentionally left for over-wintering animals and insects. 3/16/22
Joining alongside other like-minded organizations to care for the land is a neat opportunity. Here, Blue Crew and Little River Wetlands Project crew joined forces to burn Eagle Marsh in Ft. Wayne. This was one HOT fire. One of LRWP’s volunteers, Adam, is pictured taking in the headfire through the cattails. 3/17/22
Sometimes even more impressive than the fire, the smoke we make is a site to behold. Eagle Marsh 3/17/22
We “take weather” before and after every burn. This allows us to better understand the conditions and how the fire is likely to behave. Pictured here is how we read wind speeds at eye level. Division of Nature Preserves’ Tamarack Bog Nature Preserve – 3/14/22
Speaking of weather, this season provided a first for me: burning in light rain. This early in the season, we need to take advantage of every window of opportunity in order to meet deadlines on some properties. Pictured here, John Brittenham walks through some short flanking fires in the sprinkles at Bachelor property enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). 3/22/22
Here, a backing fire consumes down to mineral soil at Allan CRP. With the humidity in the 20s, it did not take much effort to create very good fire effects. 3/21/22
We sometimes have the opportunity to work with private landowners on burns as well. While we can always use an extra set of eyes on the fire line, it is also a fun opportunity to allow the landowners to be a part of the experience. Here, Mr. Coolman lights the headfire on one of his own prairies. 3/15/22
The less glamorous side of a prescribed fire is putting it out after all is said and done. “Mop up” sometimes requires cutting up dead snags and logs that have caught fire and cannot be put out with just water. Pictured here is Josh Hall and a dead mulberry that needs a little extra work. 3/15/22
Nate and I ventured out into Division of Nature Preserves’ Tamarack Bog Nature Preserve with a couple of drip torches and the goal of expanding some “rooms” within a larger overgrown fen. This adventure allowed me to take pause and appreciate a place not many people get to see. 3/14/22
Here, Josh Hall lights up the steep ditch bank at the Smith CRP prairie while I use the ATV to keep the fire within bounds. 3/4/22
On days where weather is not right for burning, we finish up some other projects like clearing brush at Camp Friedenswald in Michigan. I have to remind myself to take the time to appreciate the subtle beauty around me. Here, looks are better than smells as the crew and I walked through patches of skunk cabbage waking up for the year. 3/25/22
Look away, Mom! Spring has truly arrived when these little guys start waking up from hibernation. These garter snakes paid us no mind as they soaked in the sun at the Smith CRP prairie as we got ready for the burn. 3/4/22

Blue Herons, We Need Your Help!

We have selected an intern for this summer! He is graduating from Taylor University this May and is in need of local housing from June 1st until mid-August (maybe the end of August, depending on our work load at the end of cattail season). Is there anyone in our local community that would be willing provide housing for him this summer? Please contact us at 260.316.2498

Upcoming Events

Wildflower Hike at La Tierra Sanctuary
Saturday, April 23rd at 2PM

Back by Popular Demand!

Dust off your hiking boots and prepare to shed the winter blues. Join us for an annual rite of passage as we delight in the first flush of spring wildflowers. Violets, hepaticas, and spring beauties…oh my! Bring your walking stick, wildflower guide, and a desire to explore the wonders of an awakening landscape. 

From Fremont, travel east on SR 120. Turn right on Cope Rd/1000 E, (depending on your navigator) which is also the IN/MI state line. La Tierra is approximately 1/2 mile south on the west side of the road. A map is available here.

Trillium in bloom at La Tierra – photo by Beth Williams

Know Your Butterflies Training Session

For information, contact John Brittenham at: or 260-242-2759

Birding with the Blue Crew
Sunday, May 22nd

Birders of all levels of experience are invited to join members of the Blue Crew as we break out the binoculars and see what’s occupying the sky. Learn to identify birds by their behaviors, colors, size, shape, and sound. This gathering will take place on Sunday, May 22nd with a time and location TBD. Further details will be included in next month’s Rustling Grass and the events section of the website.

Check out the event section of our webpage for updates and cancellations:

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