In hindsight, we probably shouldn't have burned this year. Of course, it's always easy to look backwards after events and, knowing what came later, pontificate on what you should have done. But that niggling feeling in my gut is saying that the Back 5 would be healthier this year if we hadn't.
Simply because much of the ground has been left bare in the burned area this summer and that feels unhealthy to me. There is NO duff, because nothing's growing very luxuriantly. The cracks in the ground are wider and, presumably, deeper than on the unburned side. The vegetation that is growing doesn't seem quite as tall or full.
To give you a sense of what I'm talking about, here is a bird's eye view of an average area on the path through the unburned area:
Compare that with a bird's eye view of an average area on the path through the burned area:
I'm trying to wrack my brains and figure out if there are any positives to having burned in what has turned out to be a major drought year.
#1: With this much open ground, it may be easier for seeds to get established. The problem is that few plants are blooming and seeding at all, though. Not to mention the fact that the seeds that come in are as likely (or likelier?) to be invasive weeds as to be desirable forbs or grasses.
#2: Perhaps the undesirables are being set back even more than the prairie natives that are, theoretically at least, hardy in such situations. At this point, this theory is a hope, probably bordering on complete wishful thinking.
#3: Which leads me to the one unmitigated positive that I can see about having burned this year, such as it is: I've got my own little unintentional experiment set up.
One way or the other, only time will tell the lasting effects that this heat and drought will have. I would sure like to get over the dry stage of this weather and be able to start evaluating it's effects, though!