FORT SCOTT, Kans. — The Fort Scott National Historic Site focuses on the park’s health with a controlled burn Friday. It’s part of three progressive burns every spring on the five-acre tallgrass-restored prairie land at the site.
Historic site officials say this helps get rid of exotic and invasive plants that infest the prairie. They say it’s often difficult to maintain due to no large animals like a prairie would normally have.
“In working with fire, which is a natural treatment for a prairie, we can help keep it healthy and get rid of disease, get rid of exotic plants, restore the habitat for pollinators and migratory animals. The birds need it, the bees need it, the butterflies need it,” said Carl Brenner, Program Director.
Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Marais Des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, lead the burn.
“We couldn’t do it without the Fort Scott Fire Department. They are here to help support in case anything were to move to the structures. The Marais Des Cygnes Wildlife Refuge part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they’re down here, we have crew members from there, from all across Kansas with official wildlife service. Even up to Denali National Park, even up to the Denali area,” said Brenner.
“It’s good to get it burned off. That way if somebody were to come by and accidentally dropped a cigarette, it doesn’t go off where nobody’s here to do a controlled burn. So, it’s good for the environment, for them. That way it’s a nice healthy burn every spring and fall and it looks good for the fort,” added Mike Miles.
Carl Brenner says it’s really important for the historic fabric of the park.
“This wouldn’t have had any trees around us when the fort was built, this would have all been prairie. We’re trying to ensure that it stays that way. So when visitors come out here, they can see the original natural habitat that would have been around before. It’s also an opportunity to teach people about different native plants in the area because if we can get rid of the exotics, they can see what should be in their yard if they’re planting natives. It also is a way for them to see the butterflies and the bees that are pollinating that come back and pollinate plants in their yards,” said Brenner.