“We are the guardians; protectors of this place.”
– Albert Hunter, Elder and Former Chief of Rainy River First Nations.
Rainy River First Nations Elders wish to preserve Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung’s heritage. Accordingly, the community organizes a prescribed burn of the prairie each spring as soon as the snow melts. This fire renews growth of rare plants and keeps invasive species away.
As fire burns through the prairie, it exposes the mineral soil, allowing for new growth to thrive. Prairie plants are well adapted to fire as their growth tissue is located below the topsoil, safe from the effects of a fast burning fire. While the prairie plants continue to grow after a fire, woody plants are set back or destroyed as their growth material sits at the upper tip of each plant. Without human intervention, the prairie would likely burn every 3-5 years due to natural causes of fire such as lighting strikes.
In addition to annual burns, the stewardship plan for Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung includes monitoring the flora and fauna of the prairie to collect information on the distribution of native and invasive species. Butterflies, insects, and other wildlife are also being monitored to gather more information about this rare ecosystem.