The Perfect Burn Pile

Written by Leah Mould, AmeriCorps Member placed at Orleans Conservation Trust

If you’re petite like me, you know the short person struggle: standing on tippy-toes to reach the top shelf at the grocery store, getting picked up more often than your average-sized counterparts, always needing to hem your pants. But in AmeriCorps, you have an essential piece of the puzzle to make the Perfect Burn Pile.

But what’s a burn pile, you may ask? Well, at the Cape Cod National Seashore, our AmeriCorps Cape Cod FireCorps members do prescribed burns to decrease the severity of possible wildfires. If you didn’t know, Cape Cod is one of the highest fire-prone areas in the country. Burn piles are stacks of limbs, trunks and brush from vegetation cut down [in natural areas] around Cape Cod. The piles will then be burned during controlled conditions, allowing the nutrients to be returned to the soil and decreasing the severity of forest fires if one were to start.

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So what do I have — as a short person — that’s so special, you may ask? Well, it turns out that limbs and such that make their way to burn piles ought to be about four to five feet in length. So, your petite frame is an advantage. Limb longer than your height? Just get your sawyer to buck it! The burn pile also shouldn’t end up being taller than you, so there you go! You have the perfect measure for the correct size of a burn pile.

So even though your height might be below average, you’ll be top notch at burn piles.