Prescribed Fire

prescribed fire at saint john's abbey arboretum


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.


All prescribed fires are dependent on the weather and conditions on the ground. Please review the volunteer information below and sign up for our volunteer email list if you are interested in helping out.

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. 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!


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.