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Controlled Burns Planned for Whidbey Prairies

Controlled burns restore important habitat in prairie preserves

EBEY’S LANDING, WA  | September 13, 2012

The Nature Conservancy, Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM), the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Pacific Rim Institute and local fire districts have plans to cooperatively do a controlled burn at Ebey’s Landing Preserve on Friday, September 14, to reduce fire hazards and restore the prairie ecosystem. 

The fires will be carefully managed by trained Nature Conservancy and CNLM crews with support from DNR and local fire districts, who will have necessary equipment and supplies on site to safely conduct each burn. “When planning these controlled burns, safety of the community is our first consideration,” said Eric Delvin, the Community Conservation Coordinator and a trained firefighter. 

The controlled burn will be conducted only if weather conditions are safe and favorable, taking into account temperature, wind, and humidity, Delvin said. In planning, fire managers watch weather forecasts seeking favorable conditions ahead of time. Once they arrive at the site, they take measurements for relative humidity and wind and weather conditions, then perform a small test burn to see if the fire is acting as predicted. Once the controlled burn is underway, they continue to monitor wind and temperature and test for humidity every hour. 

The Conservancy and its partners have been conducting controlled prairie burns in the area since 2001 as part of an ongoing effort to steward and restore the fire-dependent prairie ecosystem that is a vital part of the Puget Sound landscape, and to reduce fire hazards by reducing built up brush. Such fires help return nutrients to the soil and keep nonnative plants at bay. 

“The native prairies essentially evolved with fire,” Delvin said. “Our Puget Sound prairies are beautiful, wide-open places—places with a remarkable diversity of wildflowers, birds and butterflies. Fire is essential to this diversity and to the prairies’ ecological health.” 

Depending on safe and favorable weather conditions, 3 burns are planned for Friday. Sites include: Ebey's Landing Preserve and two locations on Pacific Rim Institute. 

Reporters interested in covering this year’s controlled burn program should contact Eric Delvin at (360) 280-2460.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Robin Stanton
(206) 436-6274

Eric Delvin
(360) 280-2460

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