That smoke at Mima Mounds may not be what you think

Mima Mounds NAP

Firefighter lights a controlled burn line across an area of Mima Mounds in 2009. Photo: Birdie Davenport/DNR.

If you see smoke at the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP) on Thursday or Friday, it is not a wildfire. It’s a controlled burn on 30 acres of the preserve, south of Olympia. DNR is working with The Nature Conservancy of Washington to use fire to promote growth of native prairie plants and reduce thatch and shrubs in this rare grassland ecosystem.

During the burn, the preserve is open but “south loop” trail will be closed to ensure public safety.

The burn is part of a regional effort to restore native prairie grasslands in western Washington. This burn unit also is in a regional research project to assess techniques for restoring and maintaining native prairie habitat. Fire has played an important role in prairies and oak woodlands in the Puget Sound lowlands.

Controlled burns are a safe and cost-effective way to reintroduce natural disturbance to fire-adapted ecosystems. They are conducted when weather conditions allow for safe burning and minimize the impact of smoke on nearby residents.

Firefighters present during burn

Firefighters will use fire engines and other fire suppression techniques to prevent the fire from spreading beyond the control lines, and will assist in mop-up efforts. DNR and the Conservancy have considerable experience with prescribed fire. Annually, The Nature Conservancy manages or assists on 350,000 acres of controlled burns nationwide across many habitat types.

The Mima Mounds NAP
Located two miles west of Littlerock, off Waddell Creek Road, Mima Mounds NAP protects the best remaining example of the unique mounds and has a system of interpretive trails that receive up to 10,000 visitors annually. It also protects one of the last and largest remnants of Washington’s once extensive native prairie—only 10 percent remains—and provides unique habitat for diverse plants and animals.

DNR manages Natural Areas
DNR manages a statewide system of natural resources conservation areas and natural area preserves—totaling about 136,000 acres—to protect native ecosystems and the plant and animal species that depend on them. Many also provide access for education and low impact public use.

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