Bur Oak Land Trust currently maintains and preserves eleven local natural areas for the enjoyment and education of the public. These areas are managed in part by the Trust’s Property Stewardship Specialist, volunteer property stewards, volunteers, and community organizations. Volunteers play a crucial role in maintaining and preserving our properties.
Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks on Trust properties including: prairie burns, invasive species removal, trash clean up, trail maintenance, planting native species, and harvesting prairie seed, to name a few. We have various workdays throughout the year to provide everyone the opportunity to volunteer on a Trust property. Bur Oak Land Trust also needs help in the office with mailing, publications, community relations, and events. If you wish to volunteer, we can find something for you, no matter what your experience. Interested in helping with property burns? Fill out this form: Burn Crew Info Form
If you are part of a group or organization and would like to schedule a volunteer day, we would love to hear from you!
For workdays on the properties, contact Jason Taylor at jason@BurOakLandTrust.org or call 518-925-871 three.
Thank you to Big Grove Brewery for supplying wooden nickels to reward our workday volunteers!
After conducting a prescribed burn, I like to walk the burned-over unit as a way to learn more about the property. Rarely do you get a chance to see the landscape in such a denuded form; anthills and depression, normally covered from view, are suddenly everywhere. It’s also a good way to learn more about fire behavior. You can piece together clues as to why a certain area didn’t burn well, or why another area is completely black. This knowledge is incredibly helpful if you plan to burn the same unit again in the future, and helps you predict how well certain fuel-types will burn in similar conditions.
Walking the burned units is also a good way to learn more about the species that live on the property. Small mammal trails are easy to see, even in completely burned-out areas, and there are often nests that survive the fire. Sadly, I often find animals that weren’t quite fast enough to avoid the flames. Recently I conducted a burn on a private property and found the burned-over remains of a smooth green snake, a species of special concern in Iowa. This was not only the first indication that this species was on the property, but also the first official record of the species in the county I was burning in. It is unfortunate that the fire I set killed the snake, but the knowledge of the population’s presence on the land will allow me to adjust the management plan to better accommodate the species in the future.
If you are able to participate in a burn, I encourage you to take some time post-burn to walk the land. In the absence of vegetation, you will see the property in a new light, and are sure to learn more about the species that live there.
Here’s a video Jack Dickens put together of drone footage of an O’Mara-Newport burn and shots from volunteer workdays – with music by Elizabeth Moen. I hope this inspires you to get out and volunteer!