Controlled burn in Puget Sound prairie habitat

Raging wildfires can be an ecological calamity, especially as the planet warms due to climate change. But in small doses, some wildfires are actually beneficial. In prairie habitats, fires can enrich soils and maintain native plant species. In late September, state wildlife biologists oversaw several controlled burns near Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) as part of an effort to preserve habitat for the endangered Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. Less than 3% of Puget Sound's prairies now remain and are mostly concentrated along the region's southern edges, including land on the military base. Listen to a recording of some of the action, including comments from JBLM fire manager and biologist John Richardson.

A firefighter monitors a controlled burn near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. Photo by Jeff Rice.
A firefighter monitors a controlled burn near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. Photo by Jeff Rice.
About the Author: 
Jeff Rice is the managing editor of the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.