The Iowa Department of Natural is asking rural Iowans to hold off on the annual spring rite of burning off ditches. D-N-R wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says with the snow melted and warmer weather on the way, many people use this time to burn off the old growth.He says winter’s over and people are bored and it’s too early to get plating underway, so they go out and burn their ditches. Bogenschutz says being patient can help wild birds by not burning off their habitat to soon. He says they’re not trying to discourage the burning of roadsides, as that helps the native grasses, but he says they’d like to change the timing of the burning. He says you should wait until later in April or early May before you burn.He says the native grasses are still dormant and the cool season grasses are starting to grow, so you can stunt the growth of the cool season grasses and get the native grasses to grow. Bogenschutz says it’s also helpful to rotate the areas you burn from year-to-year.He says you can do something like alternating the sides of the road you burn, so you don’t eliminate all the cover in one year. Bogenschutz says the proper nesting area is the biggest factor in maintaining the bird population.
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