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Mr. Smarty Plants - Burn the wetlands

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Wednesday - June 02, 2010

From: Hinsdale, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Best of Smarty, General Botany
Title: Burn the wetlands
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

Can the wetlands of Louisiana that have been soaked in oil be burned? I am a native plant gardener in the midwest. Burning is a natural process in the prairie. Southerners are not used to this and may be ignoring a very simple solution to the wetlands that already have been devastated by oil. We could be looking at have those grasses being rejuvenated within weeks with a good burn.

ANSWER:

That is an interesting proposition. As you are aware fire is an important management tool for restoring prairies but wetlands are a whole other kind of ecosystem. They are difficult to burn (some must be drained first) and once burned it takes them years to rebuild enough vegetation for another burn so the timing has to be just right to get the most oil out of the wetland. So....while it is a viable option it is considered by most to be an option of last resort.

 

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