Like many articles in The Chronicle, this one begins at a public meeting. But unlike any others, it ends in a partially burned woods at Argo Nature Area, where a crew clad in yellow fire-retardant suits kicked up puffs of smoke as they strode through the ashes of their work.
On the path from one to the other, we learned about sling psychrometers, drip torches, council rakes and what kind of leaves burn best. Our guides were the staff and volunteers of Ann Arbor’s Natural Area Preservation program, who will be wrapping up the spring burn season later this month.
We first got an overview of the city’s controlled burn program from NAP’s manager, Dave Borneman, who made a presentation about it at the February meeting of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. He described the ecological rationale behind a burn, citing the benefits it brings by controlling invasive species and rejuvenating the land.
As it turns out, Borneman was also the “burn boss” when we tagged along on a burn last Friday – the first one done by NAP in Argo’s lowland area.
But the day for the crew began at their offices in the Leslie Science & Nature Center building, on Traver Road – so that’s where we’ll start, too.