County contracts for prairie fire management

The Anoka County Board has contracted for prescribed fire management programs in prairie areas of its parks system.

With a recommendation from its Parks and Recreation Committee, the board has awarded a three-year contract to Prairie Restorations Inc., Princeton, in the amount of $36,050.

The contract provides the option to add or drop parcels based on site and weather conditions as well as available funding.

Until now, the controlled burns of prairie land in county parks, as part of the prairie management plan, had been undertaken in-house by county natural resources staff and Conservation Corps of Minnesota workers under contract with the county with assistance from local fire departments, according to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.

But with a limited natural resources unit staff, the county was often unable to implement the controlled burns when weather conditions were right, VonDeLinde said.

“We have been looking for alternatives and this contract is cost effective,” he said.

In fact, the three bids were very competitive, VonDeLinde said.

The county has worked with Prairie Restoration, Inc., on other projects and the company is an expert in this field, he said.

With this contract, the county will be able to keep up with the prescribed fire management program, according to VonDeLinde said.

The county parks system has in place a 2010-2020 fire management plan covering 795.75 acres of prairie land in several county parks, conservation and nature areas.

These include Bunker Hills; Cedar Creek; Coon Lake; Coon Rapids Dam; Martin, Island and Lindwood; Mississippi West; Rum River Central; Rum River North; Rum River South; Rice Creek Chain of Lakes; and Sandhill Crane Nature Area.

Under the plan, prescribed burns are scheduled in 2013 in areas of Bunker Hills, Coon Rapids Dam, Rum River North and Rice Creek Chain of Lakes parks.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]