There's been a lot of talk about fire lately. That's because it's fire season. What does it have to do with water quality? Let us explain...
For the past two years, we have been working with Friends of Bailey Mountain and the Town of Mars Hill to restore old pastures at Bailey Mountain Preserve to native plant habitat. The long term goal is to have a native forest and shrubby grassland that buffers Banjo Branch, the stream running through the pastures. These vegetated buffers strips along streams are called "riparian buffers." Benefits include:
Native riparian plants have deep roots that hold the soil in place and prevent erosion.
Vegetated buffer strips along streams remove pollutants before entering waterways.
Riparian buffer strips make our streams more resilient and can reduce downstream flooding.
Diverse native plants along streams provide habitat and forage for a thriving ecosystem from the stream bed to the skies.
Prescribed burning is a tool we are using in this restoration to favor native grasses and wildflowers, to enrich and restore the depleted soils, and to keep 200 feet of the riparian buffer in early succession (dominated by shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers). This past Wednesday, the prescribed burn community came together to burn the NW pasture at the Preserve. Conditions didn't allow for a complete burn, so stay tuned for more opportunities to observe.
Thank you to the observers and the following groups who assisted with the burn and the event...
Richard Gustafson with Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District
Blue ridge RC&D (Resource Conservation & Development Council) Mars Hill Fire Department
Town of Mars Hill
Friends of Bailey Mountain NC Forest Service NC Extension Southern Blue Ridge Prescribed Burn Association