WILMINGTON — Denver Place Elementary School continued to cultivate its outdoor learning environment early Sunday morning when Caesar Creek Lake Park Manager Jim O’Boyle facilitated a controlled burn of the wildflower garden.
According to O’Boyle, prescribed or controlled burning is a technique sometimes used in forest management, farming, and prairie restoration.
Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology, and controlled fire can be a tool for foresters. Controlled burning stimulates the germination of some desirable forest trees, thus renewing the forest.
“Some forests are dependent on fire,” said O’Boyle. “For example, a jack pine forest cannot exist in the absence of fire. Some seeds, such as sequoia, remain dormant until fire breaks down the seed coating and allows germination.”
Working with nature, Denver Place Elementary has embraced the landscape of its campus by utilizing its natural resources for educational exploration. Students have participated in a variety of activities including an exploratory unit on birds, surviving in the wild, erosion, and gardening.
And through the generous support of the Wilmington community, last year’s construction of the Denver Place Elementary Land Lab Arboretum further enhanced the student learning by moving the traditional classroom outdoors.
Working to maintain and nurture the natural landscape, O’Boyle and Denver Place neighbor Rick Stanforth — an arborist who was instrumental in last year’s construction of the arboretum — will facilitate the controlled burn of the wildflower garden that will feed the soil and stimulate new growth, as all the wildflowers planted in the garden have adapted to fire and thrive in conditions that are burned periodically.
The controlled burn process affected a 1,700 square-foot area. The Wilmington Fire Department were also present as an extra safety precaution.
Information for this article was provided by Diana Miller, who coordinates communications for several area schools.