prescribed burning

Okay, this is primarily a nature/science blog, but, I’m gonna get political, too… especially where those politics intrude on scientific consensus, and/or threaten human rights.

Asexual aromantic “”“virgin”“” (I hate that concept, let alone term) here. I’m an educator and do natural resource management. I work outdoors. A LOT. I do educational hikes, boat tours, amphitheater programs, birding trips, invasive plant removal, prescribed burns, and more. I do this year-round, and in the US Midwest. I’ve worked in temps from 100°F to -25°F, in hilly, wooded, rocky terrain. The work I do is important, and I LOVE it!

You know what really impedes that work? Debilitating cramps and back pain, indigestion, and the fear that, despite all precautions, I’m going to bleed into my uniform, and even the Teflon fabric finish won’t be enough to help me remove it.

Know what fixed that right up? Nexplanon. Know how much it would have cost me without my public sector health benefits? About $700. That’s over a month’s rent. Know how much it cost me WITH those benefits? $0. It’s almost like pregnancy and birth are incredibly expensive in the US, and insurance companies know this, and would rather cover birth control completely than $30k to $50k for a hospital delivery, plus the threat of one’s spawn being added to the family plan and draining more of their profits. Are they not merciful?

These are MY reasons for using birth control, but, frankly, the reasons someone wants/needs birth control is nobody’s freaking business beyond that person and their doctor.

Cheers, from this hellbound heathen who thinks (much like the rest of the world) that healthcare is a basic human right!

Giant sequoias need fire. Not only does it help release seeds from their cones, it clears out lesser trees and gives mature trees and seedlings alike the space and light they need to thrive.

Like many parts of the west, the Mariposa Grove burned regularly throughout most of these trees’ 3,000 year history (and before, I imagine, with other trees). Then white people showed up and decided, from coast to coast, that fires were bad and we must put all of them out.

This Smoky the Bear attitude had some pretty obvious effects. Here’s one grove of trees photographed in 1890, 1970, and 2000, the last being after prescribed burns were instituted.

Those pines obscuring most of the sequoias in the middle picture would choke out the ancient giants without occasional fires, completely changing the nature of the local ecosystem. It’s not safe nowadays to just let natural fires burn unchecked, not with so many people around, but controlled burns are a great tool in forest management. Prairies and savannas, too - those incredibly diverse grasslands aren’t just disappearing due to loss of space to agriculture, but also because no one’s letting them burn or maintaining them with fire. Fear it, but use it.

Shadowlands.

This is what a prairie looks like right after a prescribed burn. Though the destruction looks complete, grassland plants evolved to cope with grassfires and actually benefit from regular burns. Non native plants and dead matter die and are turned into fertilizing ash, and the native seedlings thrive despite the fire and quickly spring up to replace them.

Prescribed burning helped turn this piece of prairie back into native grasslands. This whole thing used to be a wheat field!