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Flint Hills - Spring Burning


Walking through the landscape blackened by a prairie fire is a special experience. The smell of smoke still hangs in the air, but it is seldom overpowering. Most of the plant material has burned, but occasional survivors give cause for contemplation. Underneath, the true nature of the Flint Hills is finally revealed. White rocks bloom in profusion from the charred ground. These rocks are a major reason why the Flint Hills have not been plowed to the same degree as land further east or west. These boulders of chert won't stay visible for long, and all but the largest will soon be rehidden by the grasses that are preparing to burst forth in brilliant greens. Among the rocks, occasional antlers, bones, teeth, and other treasures also await discovery.


Fire is a great friend of the tallgrass prairie. In a climate where precipitation is adequate for a scrubby forest to grow, it is only fire that keeps the grasses in control. The following photographs show a typical transition from grass to spring regrowth.



The early spring grasses still stand, but the winter weather has made sure that they no longer reach the same heights that they did back in their October peak.







The Flint Hills revealed



Arising Green



to be continued...



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   Images Judd Patterson