A wildfire management course from The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus will conduct a controlled prairie burn at the Larry R. Yoder Prairie Nature Center on the Marion campus, Saturday, Oct. 24, weather permitting.

According to Ohio State Marion staff member Marketa Lillard, who co-coordinates activities on the prairie with Professor Bob Klips, the group typically meets at 8:30 a.m. to do the field exercises of line construction and setting up portable pump and hoselays. These activities take up most of the morning. Weather permitting the burn will take place between 12 and 1:30 p.m.

Area residents and campus visitors on that day should not be alarmed by possible smoke drifting their way or by visible flames in the prairie area. Organizers invite people from the community to observe, but cautions them to maintain a safe distance, and to obey any instructions and stay out of the way of the personnel conducting the burn.

Until recent times, fire was a natural part of prairie life. The 11 acre Sandusky Plains tall grass prairie ecosystem on the Marion campus depends on periodic fire events to rejuvenate growth and ensure long-term survival. Those who manage the prairie for the campus also depend on fire as one of the best management tools for continued invasive plant control.

The wildfire management course, taught by Ohio State Associate Professor of Forest Ecosystem Analysis and Management Roger Williams, teaches students basic firefighting skills through hands-on and visual demonstrations, as well as multimedia, such as video. This includes safety, communication, and organization of crews, the proper use of various tools and apparatus, and methodologies.