Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Nature Bulletin No. 51   Febraury 1, 1946
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

Most people firmly believe the ancient notion that the prairies and vacant lots should be burnt off "to make better grass." Many are doing so now. Boys who have seen their parents and neighbors kindling fires on vacant property frequently do likewise on the prairies. Recently there have been four fires in the forest preserves which spread from adjoining land.

Burning does more harm than good. True, it gets rid of the old weed stalks and dried grass of last year, so that new grass shows green more quickly. But repeated burnings kill the good, nutritious grasses such as bluegrass, timothy and clover. The wildflowers disappear. All food and nesting cover for birds, rabbits and other wildlife is destroyed, just when they need it most. Thistles thrive. Only tough grasses of little value for pasture or hay, such as crabgrass and quackgrass, and the weeds survive.

Fire kills young trees and frequently so scars the trunks of the older trees that disease and insects can enter, eventually destroying them. Fire consumes the fallen-leaves, twigs and other vegetable matter which, if allowed to decay, provide necessary natural fertilizer for a healthy woods. FIRE IS THE ENEMY OF FIELD AND FOREST.

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