Glacier completes prescribed burn up the North Fork

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Portions of Big Prairie in Glacier National Park saw a prescribed burn last week, partially to control lodgepole pine, like this one.

Glacier National Park did a prescribed burn in an ecologically important meadow last week and could do another one this month in a meadow further south.

Crews burned a couple of large areas in Big Prairie last week to reduce the number of lodgepole pine seedlings and saplings, which were encroaching on native prairie grassland and ponderosa pine stands. Historic photos reveal fewer trees and more open stands of large pines due to fires that periodically burned the area. Fescue grasses also benefit from periodic burn cycles to remove dead fuel and release nutrients, the Park said in a release.

During favorable weather and fuel condition windows until May 15, the park also could treat about 46 acres near Sullivan Meadow along the Inside North Fork Road, which is south of Big Prairie. Park managers hope to reduce the number of young lodgepole pine with fire, while improving the vigor of the native grasses, shrubs, and ponderosa pine trees. The intent of the burns is not to eradicate lodgepole pine from the prairie and mature ponderosa stands, but instead to reduce the number of small diameter pine trees.

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