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Investigating the Fizzled Out Controlled Burn on Maclellan Island

Mysterious abandoned island discovery.

Investigating the Fizzled Out Controlled Burn on Maclellan Island

On Tuesday, Chattanooga Audubon Society closed sections of Veterans Bridge to perform a controlled burn on Maclellan Island. The objective was to eradicate invasive plants, but the results did not align with their expectations. The plants remained unscathed. Today, we delve into the reasons why this happened and its implications.

Failed Attempts to Burn Invasive Species

Despite being able to start several fires in the middle of the river island, the society’s attempts faltered. Plants such as the Japanese honeysuckle and Mungo Grass refused to burn. Dianna Gennett, a board member of the Chattanooga Audubon Society, revealed that the stubbornness of those plants was not the primary cause for the burn’s unfortunate outcome.

However, one aspect Gennett considered successful was the spirit of cooperation that permeated this effort. “Everybody worked together, everybody was here, we had volunteers that helped out,” emphasized Gennett.

Lack of Wind: A Key Factor

Tuesday’s weather conditions seemed perfect for a prescribed burn – from the weather forecasts to the ideal relative humidity. Unfortunately, the absence of wind turned out to be a significant obstacle, preventing about half of the intended area from burning. “We just needed the wind. If we’d had that, I think we got at least 50% of that burned. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” Gennett admitted.

Partial Success and Lessons Learned

While acknowledging the shortcomings, Gennett spoke positively about the initiative, calling it a logistical success despite failing to fulfill the burn’s primary objective. According to her, the experience provided valuable insights into future strategies.

Four plant species continue to stand after Tuesday’s burn: English Ivy, Japanese Honeysuckle, Periwinkle, and Mungo Grass. “The Periwinkle and English Ivy, and then the Honeysuckle are the worst things that we have out there. It’s pretty thick, too,” Gennett noted.

Overcoming Rain and Moisture Challenges

Another unforeseen obstacle was the residual moisture from recent rain, which weakened the burn’s impact. However, the Chattanooga Audubon Society has drafted future plans to deal with such hurdles and maintain the flourishing ecosystem on the island.

“We can look at it again, down the road to prescribe a burn. I would say at least two more years, after we herbicide it and get some success out there. Audubon is moving ahead for the first time ever doing some act of force management on all their properties, which is excellent,” Gennett said, optimistically.

A Blueprint for the Future

Despite the controlled burn’s relative failure, the Chattanooga Audubon Society views this as an informative yet teachable moment. The lessons learned from this experience will undoubtedly shape their future actions for better environmental stewardship and controlled burns. The importance of necessary environmental factors like wind and the prior rain’s adverse effect on such efforts were highlights of the lessons learned.

The desire to effectively manage their lands for the benefit of the local ecosystems continues to drive the society, with future plans to use herbicides and prescribed burns to counter invasive species. The resilience and determination of everyone involved in the controlled burn are testament to the society’s commitment to conserving and maintaining the natural environment in Chattanooga.

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