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Prescribed Fire

prescribed fire at saint john's abbey arboretum

Fall 2015

Update - Monday, October 19

We will NOT be burning on TUESDAY, OCT 20. We WILL burn the High Gemini South Unit on THURSDAY, OCT 22.

Both days this week have similar east winds, to our benefit, but the relative humidity is predicted to be lower on Thursday. Equally important, students from ENVR 275 will be participating in the burn as part of their lab on Thursday. We have room for up to 15 additional volunteers so sign up using the volunteer form if you have not already done so.

We have between 2-5 prairie units to burn this fall. Please sign up if you are available using the volunteer form. Note a couple of changes to the volunteer form with the addition of a waiver form to be submitted by those of you not participating for work or a class assignment. Thanks! All burns are weather dependent; we take into account wind direction and speed, any drought conditions, among other factors before moving ahead with a burn. Sign up for volunteer shifts using the volunteer form. Check your email and this website for any updates and to confirm that a scheduled burn is proceeding. Check out a slide show of one of our previous burns!

All volunteer shifts are outlined in the volunteer form. You must stay for your entire shift. MEET AT SAINT JOHN'S FIRE HALL at 12:30 PM for the first shift. All shifts begin and end at the Saint John's Fire Hall (#24 on the campus map).

Don't forget to bring a water bottle! 


Prescribed fires at Saint John's Abbey Arboretum are an important land management activity. Prairie plants are pyrofites. That is, they thrive in the presence of fire. Not only do fires release nutrients to the soil and open up the ground layer for new plants, but they also work to fend off invading woody and non-native species.

Cost is free and the burn is open to any interested volunteers ages 18 and older. Check out some of the pictures from past burns.


All prescribed fires are dependent on the weather and conditions on the ground. Please review the volunteer information below and fill out a volunteer form if you are interested in helping out.

Current Burn Plans

Volunteer Information

The work is physical and involves using a shovel or a backpack water tank or a torch. We can also use volunteers for jobs like photography and check-in. No matter what you do, you and your clothes will get smoky and dirty!

You must stay for your entire shift and may not come late or leave early. It is too hard to safely keep track of people coming and going. We have fire shirts, helmets, and gloves for twenty volunteers. Fill out a volunteer form if you are interested in helping out. If you are not yet on our list to receive e-mail notifications of volunteer opportunities, complete the online volunteer form to be added to the list. Contact us early to ensure your participation! Meet at the Saint John's Fire Hall (see campus map) to sign in and receive safety gear.


On the day of the burn, you will need cotton jeans, and a cotton shirt or sweatshirt for your outer layer; it gets cold in the evening. Wear leather boots or the heaviest shoes you have. Bring a water bottle that fits in your pocket or can clip to your belt. Dress for the weather and bring extra layers to keep warm. Wool is a good option that is both warm and non-flammable. We will furnish you with a fire shirt, hard hat, and cotton gloves. If you have leather work gloves, feel free to bring them. DO NOT BRING OR WEAR ANYTHING MADE OF FLEECE OR POLYESTER AS IT BURNS TOO EASILY.


We will give you a safety briefing, teach you to use the hand tools, and assign you to a leader.