prairie

Fermilab Today reader Gordon Garcia of Bartlett, Ill., took this photo of a controlled burn at the prairie east of the Pine Street entrance to Fermilab. The Fermilab Roads and Grounds crew uses small vehicles to transport equipment and monitor prairie burns.

The Fermilab prairie burn season is nearly over. Here, a controlled prairie burn is conducted on a hillside. Fermilab’s trained crew always checks weather conditions and takes every precaution before conducting a burn. Prairie burns help get rid of invasive plants and are essential to restoring the natural habitat.

Fermilab is looking for volunteers to help with its annual prairie seed harvest. Two harvest events are planned, on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 2, beginning at 10 a.m. Fermilab’s site hosts 1,000 acres of restored native prairie land, and each year community members pitch in to help collect seeds from those native plants.

These yellow flowers, which can be seen off Pine Street, are compass plants, so named because their basal leaves orient themselves in a north-to-south direction to avoid the direct rays of the midday sun.

Fermilab held one of its regularly scheduled prairie burns in March, the immediate aftermath of which is shown in the top photo. Only two months later, green grass has shot up in the burn area.