Prescribed fires are one of the many ecological services that Blue Heron Ministries offers. Fire played an important role in the establishment of many of the ecosystems we work with. Fire serves as a disturbance that triggers the natural processes of succession, improves habitat for wildlife, and improves the establishment of native plants. Most burns occur in the early spring, but there is a shorter window for burns in the fall as well. We are also beginning to experiment with growing season burns.
Blue Heron Ministries prepares a site specific burn plan, in written and graphic form, for each burn location. Each crew member that participates on our burns has completed the red card certification classes given by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for wildland firefighting. Blue Heron also takes care of any variance applications that may be required for each site, depending on the location.
Brush and Custom Field Mowing
Mowing down invasive species during certain times of the year can help weaken the impact of that species and over time, can eradicate it completely. Much like fire, brush mowing is another type of disturbance that can trigger natural processes. Blue Heron Ministries does this in a number of ways, and will complete a personalized site visit and plan to determine the best method for each case.
Local Genotype Seed Harvesting
Blue Heron Ministries collects a large portion of the seeds we plant from many of the properties we work on. Seeds collected from local plants contain a local genotype, which means that the plant will be better adapted to the conditions of the area, and more likely to survive. This helps maintain the unique characteristics of the Lakes Country ecoregion and begin to recover the native landscapes we are starting to lose.
Much of the seed we collect by hand, with a lot of help from our volunteer base. We gather to collect seed every Saturday in October, as well as other dates throughout the year. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and joining in on the fun, follow us on Facebook or check the Volunteer page for opportunities.
Shoreline Restoration and Native Landscaping
Shoreline loss and bank erosion are major concerns throughout the Lakes Country. To address these concerns, Blue Heron Ministries works with public and private landowners to develop a customized stabilization plan for each site that promotes a healthy shoreline ecosystem. Locally sourced plant plugs and seeds are strategically incorporated into each design as part of our mission to restore native landscapes.
Broadcast and Spot Herbicide Applications
Herbicide application is another effective method of eradicating invasive and unwanted species. Blue Heron offers a wide array of herbicide application methods: basal oiling, broadcast and spot spraying, glove of death, two-person and ATV wicking, tree girdling, and stump cut and treat. All crew members have a pesticide applicator’s license for the states of Indiana and Michigan.
Invasive Species Control
Blue Heron controls invasive plant species through fire, mowing, and herbicide application. Here is a list of the species we most commonly treat:
Cattail – Typha spp.
Reed Canary Grass – Phalaris arundinacea
Purple Loosestrife – Lythrum salicaria
Canada Thistle – Cirsium arvense
Garlic Mustard – Alliaria petiolata
Glossy Buckthorn – Frangula alnus
Honeysuckle – Lonicera maackii
Autumn Olive – Elaeagnus umbellata
Tree of Heaven – Ailanthus altissima
Privet – Ligustrum spp.
Japanese Barberry – Berberis thunbergii
Japanese Knotweed – Polygonum cuspidatum
Multiflora Rose – Rosa multiflora
Spotted Knapweed – Centaurea stoebe
Winged Burning Bush – Euonymus alatus
Bittersweet – Solanum dulcamara
Phragmites – Phragmites australis