We were exploring at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area this past weekend. Located in Burnett County in northwestern Wisconsin, this is a globally rare landscape of pine and oak with a very sandy soil. It’s quite startling to see the Barrens after driving miles through forested land; all of a sudden the sky opens up and the vista is wide with rolling hills and a prairie-like view. The ground near the road was black where there had been a prescribed burn the day before, and the air had a pronounced smell of smoke. After about 20 minutes, we saw smoke to the east and found they were doing some spot fires to finish what had been started the day before. I’m excited to return to the area in the next week or so — the grass will be turning green with our recent rains, and soon the wildflowers will sprout and bloom.