Prescribed fire, a pact to restore one million acres, and the world’s largest climate change experiment!

Hey guys! This past week the Climate RA’s were sent to Wisconsin for climate change field training. It was an incredible experience!

On the first day, we got to meet with a few members of the Ojibwe tribe to learn about prescribed fire. Historically, the Ojibwe tribe, and other tribes all over the nation, intentionally set fires to areas of the forest to allow for new growth and healthy forests. However, once North America was colonized, the fires were forced to stop. We are now beginning to realize the importance of prescribed fires, and people all over the country are starting to join the movement to bring them back into management practices. The group we met were working with a camera crew to create a documentary to highlight the history behind the forest and the fires set by the Ojibwe. One of their goals with this was to show the importance of prescribed fire and explain why we need to bring fire back. They also had several tree cross sections for us to look at; they pointed out the black tree rings that signified a year that a prescribed burn had occurred. It was unbelievably cool that tree rings tell us so much about the history of the area: black rings show fire, thin rings show a lack of water or nutrients, thick rings show abundant water and nutrients. So much history held in rings that are only a few millimeters thick.  

On the second day, we got to visit Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. The lighthouse was beautiful and there was a rocky beach looking out to Lake Superior. The lake is so large that you feel like you are looking out into a vast ocean! There we got to tour the Split Rock Adaptation
Demonstration site where we learned about assisted migration, climate concerns, and restoration efforts in the area. We also got to hear about a partnership between Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy; they are working to restore a million acres of land in Minnesota! Last summer they planted 1.42 million trees in two months! That’s a lot of trees! If you live in that area I would 100% reach out and ask if you can be part of the project; they bring on volunteers every year to help.

On the final day, we got to visit Marcell Experimental Forest which is home to SPRUCE: Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental Change Experiment. This is the world’s largest climate change experiment! There were 10 huge greenhouses that had various temperatures and CO2 levels within them. It was kind of alarming to see that, even though these greenhouses were all close together, the ecosystems within each one was so different due to the internal conditions imposed upon them. This just goes to show the dire situation that many of Earth’s ecosystems will be in as the effects of climate change grow stronger.

‘This week was an amazing experience, and I am so glad I get to share it with all of you! Until the next adventure! 

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