Fire is the Enemy of Field and Forest
Nature Bulletin No. 10 April 14, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation
FIRE IS THE ENEMY OF FIELD AND FOREST
There have been 112 fires in the forest preserves since January 1,
burning over 612 acres, including 150 acres of fine woodland and
young forest plantings. There need not have been ONE if people only
understood the damage done by forest and grass fires.
Every spring and every fall, thousands of acres of prairie and vacant
subdivisions are burnt off. Some of these fires jump over into forest
preserves. Many fires start inside the preserves, or along their highway
borders, from matches, cigarettes or pipe bottle thrown aside by
careless people. Some start from picnic fires. A few are kindled by boys
who have seen their parents or neighbors do the same thing at home.
Most people believe that the prairies should be burnt off " to make
better grass". The new green grass shows more quickly when the old
grass and weeds have been so removed. But the good, nutritious
grasses, such as bluegrass, timothy, and clover, are killed by repeated
burning. Only the tough grasses, such as crabgrass and quackgrass,
survive these burnings and they are of little value for pasture or hay.
Most of the weed seeds are unharmed by such burnings. The native
wildflowers, however, disappear. Burning also destroys all food and
cover for birds and other wildlife.
in the woods kills the young trees and frequently so scars the trunks
of the older trees that disease and insects can enter, eventually
destroying them. Fire also consumes the fallen leaves, twigs and other
vegetable matter which, if allowed to decay, provide necessary natural
Update: June 2012