It’s the familiar sound of spring.
No, it’s not snow under your shoes, but the sound of dry, dead vegetation, still dormant under Mother Nature’s rules.
And because of that, it’s vulnerable to fire.
“You have the winter kill off, form all of the snow and the cold, and so the grass gets killed off so when the snow first melts, that grass is dry and brittle and basically dead, so what you have is you kind of have that early fire season where grass fires can spark off,” said Bismarck Rural Fire Department Assistant Chief Dustin Theurer.
He says a lot of things can spark a wildfire — from cigarette butts to irresponsible burning, and even sparks from trailer chains.
And don’t let your guard down just because the ground is moist…
“Even though there’s that moisture in the ground, as the ground unthaws, it takes these 60, 70 degree days that you start seeing in the spring for that to truly start to unthaw to where you can get that greenup to where it will slow off the wildfire season for a little bit,” said Theurer.
Now, even though man can spark a wildfire in several different accidental ways, nature has its own agenda when it comes to wildfires. And it comes from a source you may not have thought of, and in some cases that wildfire may actually be beneficial.
You can thank a severe thunderstorm for some fires. In fact, last year, lightning sparked 21 wildfires across the state, and that’s vitally important to North Dakota’s ecosystem.
“Wildland fires honestly belong to the ecosystem just as much as the animals, the plants, they’re a part of how we even have grasslands in North Dakota. It’s part of a healthy grasslands ecosystem, it helps get rid of invasive species and things like that,” said Aubrey Davis with the North Dakota Forest Service.
So as the winds pick up and fluff up what’s already on the ground, just be careful this spring so your fun in the sun doesn’t go up in smoke.