In Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a carefully planned series of prescribed fires is about to take place. From November 6 to 15, 2023, the National Park Service (NPS) will use fire as a tool to help native plants and wildlife thrive by clearing out invasive species that threaten to upset the park’s ecological balance.
The action will unfold across three areas of the park’s sprawling landscape. The first burn will revisit the site of the old Richfield Coliseum, where 40 acres are earmarked for treatment. This location, now a hotspot for bird enthusiasts, is set for its second fire since becoming part of the park. The second site is the Terra Vista Natural Study Area, a 129-acre section that’s been a focus for butterfly research for almost 20 years. The third site is a smaller, 13-acre area in Boston Township, showing the park’s dedication to managing its diverse habitats.
These controlled burns are part of a bigger picture, a long-term plan for managing the park’s ecosystems. They’re not new; the park has conducted similar burns in the past, with the last ones at Terra Vista and Boston Township in May 2021. The NPS team is experienced in using fire to help the land, not harm it.
While the team is focused on keeping smoke to a minimum, locals and visitors might see or smell smoke during the burns. It’s part of the process, but the team will be keeping a close eye on it to keep any inconvenience to a minimum.
The benefits of these burns are significant. They help maintain the park as a prime spot for birdwatching and as a habitat for butterflies, among other wildlife. The park, which stretches over 33,000 acres between Cleveland and Akron, is a place where history, recreation, and nature meet.
As the park gears up for these fires, it’s a collaborative effort with the community. Everyone understands the role these burns play in keeping the park healthy for animals and plants alike. It’s a clear example of how humans can help nature along in a way that’s thoughtful and effective.
For those looking to stay informed or get involved, the NPS is open for questions and shares updates on their website and social media. They’re ready to chat about this important work they’re doing to keep the park a vibrant and healthy place for all its inhabitants.