Control burn at Lovewell Lake
March 16, 2023
] A program that was once common practice is now being implemented for the benefit of the foliage and wildlife at Lovewell State Lake. After September 2001, all controlled burns on Federal properties were discontinued. There was a need to put policies and procedures in place for the safety of the wildlife and people that visited the parks in Kansas. It was during this time that all fireworks during the 4th of July were also restricted to the disappointment of campers and lake visitors. In that time the undergrowth of brome grass and small cedar trees were allowed to grow causing potential danger to the park. The grasses and cedar trees have become fuel for any fire that might be started from a careless cigarette discarded from the window of a passing vehicle or the random spark from a campfire. With a prescribed burn, the grasses and small cedar trees are taken out of the equation.
To the uneducated eye, the burn looks almost magical because although the grasses and undergrowth were burning, the full-grown trees and cabins were not touched by the fires. There was a wet line created by the team of prescribed burners. Crew members of the Kansas Game and Wildlife and Land management were given the go ahead to burn this potential fuel to prevent out of control fires.
It takes a team to have a prescribed burn. There's a definite plan that is dependent on the weather and fuel load and the need for a team to control the prescribed burn. The undergrowth, brome grasses and cedar trees, are described as fuel load. Monday was a perfect day to do a prescribed burn. Tuesday, there was wind forecasted for the afternoon. The burn team was out at sunrise cooling off all of the hotspots left from Monday's burn.
"You can't just light it and walk away." Thane Loring, park manager, commented. Not all of the park is going to have prescribed burns. Some of the park is in large flat areas that will be used as hay which also helps with land management. In the coming years a rotation will be put in place for scheduled prescribed burns. With these burns it is expected to bring back native grasses and help control nuisance trees. The burns are now thought to be good for replenishing life in the parks. There's a limited window that these burns can take place. Usually the timing would be March and April but campers often come to the park in April so that has to be taken under consideration. "We don't want to smoke the campers out and it's hard to see the road with all of the smoke.
Lovewell Lake has been an attraction for campers and visitors. In 1957, when the lake started to fill, there were no trees for shade and beauty. that has changed. The burns are also good for the birds that nest on the ground such as turkeys, pheasants and quail. The native grasses attract more insects that these birds can eat. It's taken 60 years to have the lake and wildlife areas as we see them today. The foliage makes Lovewell Lake a destination for the enjoyment of tourists and residents of Nebraska and Kansas alike. Through proper stewardship of the land, many trees have been cultivated to grow and thrive into the luscious park today.