Wildland firefighters from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and partner agencies are starting fires on grasslands or at the edges of forests this spring an summer. They’re conducing prescribed burns–the carefully considered use of fire to improve wildlife habitat, get rid of invasive plant species that can crowd out native plants or help reduce debris on the ground that could fuel large wildfires.
DNR firefighters conducted prescribed burns on more thn 8,800 acres in 2019, but the process was suspended during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Procedures have now been developed to keep firefighters safe.
“Fire is an important tool to help maintain and improve the landscape, and we’re glad to be out there again,” said Dan Laux, fire section manager for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.
Prescribed burns are one way the DNR keeps public lands and forests healthy. The burns are planned to achieve specific objectives – often simulating the benefits of natural fires. Burns are conducted by highly trained DNR personnel in state-managed areas during appropriate weather conditions and in cooperation with the proper authorities and local units of government. The DNR said public safety is a top priority during all prescribed burns.
Burns may be canceled at the last minute due to careful monitoring of weather and wind conditions.