4. Prairie Fire and Snapper Protection
- The "Cow" tree is a visible reminder that fire is a vital part of the prairie and oak savanna ecosystem. Both Native Americans and lightning frequently ignited fires that raged across the open prairie of Minnesota.
- The revitalizing effects of fire can be observed almost immediately as the green hue of new growth returns in a matter of days and by the end of the season the prairie can be a sea of grasses over 6 feet tall. Fires are important for the pyrofite (fire loving) plants of the prairie.
- As a management tool, prescribed burning keeps down encroaching trees, returns nutrients to the soil, and eliminates non-native plants.
- Snapping turtle nests are protected from raccoon and skunk predators by cages. Excessive turtle harvesting for soup in neighboring lakes has prompted us to provide a little extra protection for some of the nests we discover. The eggs are incubated in the sand for 55-125 days depending on the weather. Newly hatched snapping turtles are about the size of ping pong ball.