Central Platte NRD performs controlled burn at Stuhr Museum

Local4 News at 5
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 1:48 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Grand Island, Neb. (KSNB) - Drivers going past the Stuhr Museum Thursday afternoon saw big plumes of smoke. Fortunately, it wasn’t a wildfire.

Central Platte Natural Resources District Information Specialist Marcia Lee said the NRD’s prescribed fire crew was doing a controlled burn. Lee said the burn was intended to clear vegetation from the waterways in the Wood River Flood control project.

She said it also helps clear out the nearby culverts. They were burning the wetland area on the Stuhr campus that is associated with the flood control project.

Lee said the “maintenance” burns are done every three to four years in order to ensure the floodways properly divert water away from the more populated areas of Grand Island.

“We periodically burn it,” said Bill Hiatt, of Central Platte Natural Resources District. “It makes maintenance easier, so getting out there to spray obnoxious weeds. But it also rejuvenates the wetland plants; makes for a much healthier environment.”

Stuhr Museum even sharing on its page about how there’s nothing be concerned. Adding that the pros have taken the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of all the structures and people around.

Hiatt said with wetlands in particular, cat tails can get thick enough that healthy vegetation can’t grow underneath them. This can create dead zones, which indicates it’s time to conduct a burn.

“Wetlands are very productive areas,” said Hiatt. “One, due to water. You know just the water availability, and two, the nutrients that come into the wetland. So, they’re very nutrition-rich, so the vegetation that does grow, grows very thick.”

They say the wetlands at Stuhr Museum drain water off Highway 281 and the burning will help the natural flow of the land.

“This will help water move through it easier and if you get too much vegetation that’ll slow down water flow,” said Hiatt. “In wetland that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’re supposed to be kind of like natural sinks for catching runoff and erosion, that kind of stuff.”

The burning adds capacity to the wetlands and fire, wildfires in particular, has always been a natural part of Central Nebraska.

“Being in the prairie, fire has always been a natural part,” said Hiatt. “What we’re doing is we’re trying to bring fire back but under our terms, rather than waiting for nature to burn it.”

The area usually experiences burns when it’s hot and really windy. The goal is to create the burns when need and have it act as a wildfire, just fully contained from start to finish.