How Broadmoor's Meadow Bounced Back After Fire
August 30, 2023
When 5.8 acres of Broadmoor’s property burned due to an unexpected brush fire last August, the torched land had an opportunity to transform. Through collaboration with Metro West property staff, Broadmoor’s Terracorps service member, and Natick GIS, we used this opportunity to track and monitor how ecosystems rebound after a fire. Today, we are pleased to share that the area is lush with life.
An Opportunity for Native Plants
After the fire, we actively encouraged native plant species to flourish while discouraging the growth of invasives. Through drone imaging and plant biodiversity monitoring, we could see exactly how this part of our property “healed”.
Just weeks after the fire, grass was quickly repopulating the area. Notably, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), a native grass, grew in with more prominence than in unburnt areas.
Alongside native grasses, Northern Dewberry, sorrel, blueberry, and milkweed repopulated the burnt area throughout the year following the fire. Native plant cover was notably higher in burnt areas than in unburnt areas.
Due to the burns, invasive species, including Oriental bittersweet, buckthorn, and fine-leaved sheep fescue, were cleared down to the soil, a typically painstaking task for property staff. With the above-ground plant material mostly burned, staff dug up the invasive shoots as they emerged, which would have been nearly impossible before the fire leveled the area. After the fire eliminated these aggressive growers, native species like milkweed seemed to grow better.
While this fire wasn’t planned, sometimes controlled burns help an ecosystem remain healthy and encourage plant regrowth. In this case, the burns impacted the lower grasses and shrubs without harming the mature trees, giving native species a clear opportunity to flourish. Learn more about our work supporting resilient lands across Massachusetts.
View the Native Plant Growth
Many thanks to Natick GIS for gathering footage, imaging, and mapping the burn area.