Dustin Dienst, Faribault Fire Chief told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners today to borrow a phrase from former Chief Mike Monge, "Keep your butts in your vehicle."

Of course this is a reference to cigarette or cigar butts.  Instead of throwing them out the window, extinguish and leave them inside the vehicle so they can be disposed of properly later.

Dienst spoke considerably about grassfires because frankly it is grassfire season.

Dienst pointed out his department assisted River Bend Nature Center by doing a prescribed burn of acres.

He says, "We burned four or five different areas.  One was a really large area just north of the main visitor's center.  It's pretty cool to see that.  If you've never seen a big blackened field you might want to cruise up to the nature center and see it."

Dienst added, "It's a great partnership that we have with the Nature Center.  Granted it's city land.  So it's our land to manage, but that's really what we're doing there.  We're managing the native species that are growing there and fire is an integral part of that management."

"We also do training so we develop fire breaks and that requires extinguishing the fire that we light.  It works out really good."

"You can't really have a better (situation)  a lot of fire departments don't have what we have to do grassfire training within the city limits."

He pointed out the Faribault Fire Department has not had the number of grassfires experienced during the peak years of the Conservation Reserve Program.

The Food Security Act of 1985 directed the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to enroll 40 to 45 million acres by 1990 to reduce soil erosion and curb production of surplus commodities.

The first signup in March of 1986 there were 700,000 acres enrolled.  Two more signups that year would total 7.5 million acres.

Rental payments were capped at $50,000 per year per person.

By 1990 33 million acres were included.

Another added benefit was to habitat as evidenced by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife published study that estimated CRP acreage accounted for 2 million additional ducks per year from 1992 to 1997 in the prairie pothole region of North Dakota, South Dakota and eastern Montana.

In 2019 Rice County ranked 35th in the state with 11,617 acres in CRP,  Other area counties and their ranking:

  • Le Sueur     24th     16,527 acres
  • Steele         45th       9,860 acres
  • Waseca      47th       7,839 acres
  • Goodhue    50th       6,623 acres
  • Olmsted     53rd       6,154 acres
  • Dodge       64th        2,612 acres
  • Dakota      67th        2,262 acres

Dienst also brought a book of burning permits with him to explain how they work.

It's pretty simple.  The Faribault Fire Chief prefers people come to the fire station in Faribault to get their permits.  They are free there and $5 if obtained online on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

Dienst explains the paper received is not a permit until you call a number on the form to receive your burning permit number.  It's activated when that number is obtained.

River Bend Prescribed Burn facing North from Visitor Center.
River Bend Nature Center More Prescribed Burn. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld

How many of these have you seen?

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