On December 22, 2020, CREA and BTLT hosted a panel of experts on the topic of the role fire plays on the Maine landscape. Speakers included James Eric Francis Sr. of the Penobscot Nation, Aliesha Black of the Maine Forest Service, and Nancy Sferra of The Nature Conservancy.

Watch the full presentation by clicking below, or read THIS lovely summary of what the speakers shared.

BTLT uses fire to manage the rare “Little Bluestem – Blueberry Sandplain Grassland” at Crystal Spring Farm (read more below about this landscape). Fire supports the health of this rare habitat, as well as the production of blueberries. These burns also have the added bonus of helping to trail local fire fighters on wildfire management.

We are planning a burn this spring (2021). Watching the presentation will help you better understand why this important management tool is being used by BTLT, as well as how it will be used safely.

Watch the presentation:

BTLT’s burn at Crystal Spring Farm in 2013:

Little Bluestem – Blueberry Sandplain Grassland

Crystal Spring Farm is home to a rare natural community, called the “Little Bluestem – Blueberry Sandplain Grassland.” Once common along the northeastern coast, development and changing land uses have all but eliminated this unique biome. The Maine Natural Areas Program lists this habitat as “critically imperiled.”

The unique habitat is a product of geologic history and human actions. The sand and gravel deposited by melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age provides a level, well-drained base that acidic plants love. Both Native Americans and European settlers used fire deliberately as a way to maintain the area as grassland and promote blueberry production.

Poverty oatgrass, little bluestem, woodland sedge, northern blazing star, and blueberry are highly adapted to this place. This natural community often provides nesting habitat for several rare, ground nesting, grassland birds including the grasshopper sparrow and upland sandpiper, and habitat for a rare snake, the northern black racer.