MNR collaborated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Midwest Regional Office, the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Montour Fire Department to conduct controlled burns across the Settlement. Together we burned eight units totaling 131 acres. Weather permitting; the BIA is planning on coming back down to the Settlement to help burn units that we were unable to burn on the first go-around due to a lack of time and/or poor weather conditions.
A lot of time and effort goes into the planning process for the controlled burn season, which is normally just a short window of time in the spring. In order to sustainably burn all the areas on the Settlement, MNR has developed a burn rotation schedule. This will allow each area to be burned every 2-5 years depending on how the area is classified.
Burn areas have one of two classifications: wildfire prevention area or wildlife management area. Wildfire prevention areas are wild areas near homes or structures. The objective of burning these areas is to minimize the risk of a wildfire for the safety of Tribal Members and buildings. These areas will be burned on a 2-year rotation. Wildlife management areas are areas managed to best promote native/cultural plant and animal species. Fire is an important tool in management because it stimulates native plants that have evolved with the history of fire in Iowa. Non-native plant species oftentimes are not properly adapted to this style of management, so fire will kill them or slow their growth.
In future years, MNR is hoping to have a Meskwaki Burn Crew established. This crew would be made up of Tribal Members and Tribal Operations Staff. Crew members will be properly certified to conduct prescribed fires on the Settlement and to fight wildfires (even out West if interested). Approved by Council, MNR finalized a contractual agreement with BIA to provide funding for crewmembers time spent on a fire line. If you are interested in joining this team or if you have questions or concerns about controlled burning, please call our office at 484-3511. Thank you for all of your support and cooperation!