Grange Avenue Pond - Organized Burn
On December 5th, a small group of volunteers from the Hales Corners Environmental Committee conducted an organized burn under the direction of Mark Verhagen from the Wehr Nature Center.

An Organized Burn includes the neccessary contacting of the Police and Fire Departments to inform them of our activity. Someone calling them about a possible emergency is anticipated.
The Grange Avenue Pond is the site of a demonstration project that embraces horticultural diversity located south of Grange Avenue and 110th Street. It is also in direct view of the playground at the Hales Corners Lutheran School, 5425 S. 111 Street.

Participants in the burn became concerned about the possible message that might be forming in the minds of the children from the school playground, witnessing growups lighting fires in the grass.

The following letters will best describe the event and the response for the young witnesses.

Dear Ms. Bartholomew,

I am writing to you concerning the burning activity at the 110th & Grange Avenue Pond today, Wednesday, Dec. 5th. While the area was being treated, we saw that there were recess periods when children were able to see our activity from the playground across the street. We felt that it would be a good idea to explain our actions, even after the burn was done.

As members of the Hales Corners Environmental Committee, we have been caring for the area around the Retention Pond for some years now. Today we had a small burn activity in an effort to keep invasive weeds under control. At times, there was a good amount of smoke and some flames. The event was planned, sanctioned, and the fire and police department had been contacted as required. But we had not planned for an elementary 'audience', although in their playtime they may not have taken notice.

Part of a comprehensive plan in weed control in a native environment is to burn off the layer of dead material in the fall, along with exotic plant species. The fire adversely affects some plants but does not harm grasses and plants that have become long associated with our local soils and environment.
This morning we were able to have all of the necessary elements in place to have the burn: director, assistants, tools, water, and good weather. When we heard the children, we thought they might not understand why we were setting fires. We wanted to send the right message to you, for you to share with the young students.

The Environmental Committee is very concerned about many things that effect our air, water, and land, especially in our little Village of Hales Corners. We hope that this message will be communicated to the students as necessary, and we thank you for the opportunity to teach our younger citizens about our environment.

Sincerely yours,

Valerie Kupczak-Rios
Horticulturist & member-
Hales Corners Environmental Committee

To: Valerie
Subject: Re: Controlled burn at the Grange Ave. Retention Pond today

Good Morning Valerie,

Thank you so much for your email. Some of the students did notice the
activity yesterday while at recess. The teachers outside thought it might
be a controlled burn and did some explaining, but it is so nice to have
the official word. I did forward your email to the classroom teachers
that were outside at the time so they can better explain to their students
what was happening. What a great learning experience for us! We often
talk with students about how to be responsible and take care of this
beautiful world that God has created and this ties in perfectly.

Thank you again for taking the time to let us know what was happening. It
is greatly appreciated!

Diana Bartholomew

Hales Corners Lutheran School