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I am back at work, part-time, getting ready for the season to open at the International Crane Foundation. My department is charged with getting the site ready for the more than 25,000 people who visit between April 15th and October 31st each year. They come to see all 15 species of the world’s cranes (only place on earth) as well as walking our trail system through ecologically restored oak savanna, prairie and wetlands – all critical environments not only for cranes, but people and many other species.

At ICF, an important tool in restoring these ecosystems is fire. Prior to European settlement in this area, natural fires kept these environments healthy. Today, prescribed burns are conducted to encourage native flora to thrive and eradicate – as much as possible – invasive, or non-native species. A 35-acre burn was conducted in the restoration area at ICF’s headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The entire restoration encompasses 100 acres and burns are conducted on a rotating basis. Some areas are burned every three years, others every five, and so on. Results gathered from observations of these areas not only inform how this area is managed, but also help ICF’s scientists restore vital ecosystems around the world where field work is being conducted to save some of the most endangered species of cranes including Sarus cranes in Vietnam, Whooping cranes in North America and Black and Gray Crowned cranes in Africa.

The following pictures were taken March 26, 2010 as ICF staff, interns, volunteers, family and friends participated in a prescribed burn in the prairie, wetland and woodlands.