Prescribed Burn on the Platteville M


REC Club/ Dr. Chris Baxter

Students in the Reclamation, Environment and Conservation department conducted a prescribed burn on the M at the Platteville Mound on May 4. This is the second prescribed burn conducted by the REC students and REC club on campus-managed land.

About 15 people contributed to the burn, which took about two and a half hours to perform.

The Exponent had the opportunity to correspond with Dr. Chris Baxter, Professor of Crop and Soil Science and REC and coordinator of the burn, about the prescribed burn on the M.

Dr. Baxter remarked that, from his knowledge, the M had not been burned in at least the last 20 years. Compared to the rest of the land on the Mound, the M itself was fairly clear of woody vegetation and was primed to be burned.

However, “there is certainly the opportunity to use prescribed burning as a management/restoration tool on other areas of the Platteville Mound,” Dr. Baxter said. “The Mound also provides an opportunity to restore a relatively rare dry-mesic prairie plant community, and using fire as a management tool is critical to maintaining these ecosystems.”

“However,” he added, “additional work must be done to designate areas appropriate for restoration, remove large woody species and to create fire breaks.”

These efforts continue the ongoing land stewardship patterns on campus. The week prior to this prescribed burn, the REC club and REC students conducted a burn on April 24 on the Rountree Prairie. The prairie is a 12-acre prairie located near Memorial Park.

As Dr. Baxter explained in the Exponent’s coverage of the Rountree Prairie burn last week, “native warm season grasses like big bluestem, switchgrass and Indiangrass … stay dormant later into the spring and early summer until soil temperatures increase above 50 F, so there is a longer window of time when the ground fuels remain burnable.”

To read more about the Rountree Prairie prescribed burn, please visit

For students interested in joining the REC club or learning more about prescribed burns, contact Dr. Chris Baxter at [email protected].