Sometimes the best thing you can do to preserve and protect a natural area is to burn it. The Forest Preserves of Cook County regularly conducts "prescribed burns" throughout their 70,000 acre system. The aim of prescribed burns, they say, is to reduce the risk of wildfires, improve wildlife habitats and ecosystems, and control the growth of invasive and non-native plant species. I was always fascinated by the "burns crews" I saw in the forest preserves, so I jumped at the chance to suit up and spend the day helping with a prescribed burn.
Each burn happens in a carefully planned way, determined by the shape of the site, the natural fire stop barriers available and, especially, the wind. Once trained, I used what they call a "drip torch" to literally drop fire onto the plants and start the fire according to that plan.