Prescribed ecological burn TODAY at Gallagher Creek Park and O’Connor Nature Park

Safety is our number one concern when conducting prescribed burns. We only conduct prescribed ecological burns after considering the benefits and costs relative to other options. Historically, fire was a regular component of the landscape in southeast Michigan, helping maintain fire dependent oak woodlands, prairies, and wetlands. By returning fire to these systems, we work to restore ecological health to our landscape. One of our major objectives for the burns today is to remove dead Phragmites thatch in areas that were treated last fall. (Learn more about the invasive grass Phragmites by clicking here)

Safety is our number one concern when conducting prescribed burns.
Safety is our number one concern when conducting prescribed burns. Photo from the 2008 burn at Gallagher Creek Park.

Who:

Plantwise LLC will conduct the prescribed burns at Gallagher Creek Park today. Plantwise has been conducting prescribed burns on private, public, and commercial properties since 1998. The prescribed burns are done with permission from the Oakland Township fire department.

When:

Today, March 20, 2015. We will start at Gallagher Creek Park late morning and move to O’Connor Nature Park after that burn is complete.

Where:

  • Gallagher Creek Park (just east of the Silver Bell and Adams intersection on the north side of the road)
  • O’Connor Nature Park (on the northeast corner of Rochester and Mead)

Why:

  • Historically, fire occurred regularly in natural communities of southeast Michigan. Our prairies, oak savannas, oak woodlands, and even some wetlands are not only adapted to fire, but require fire for their continued existence. We use prescribed burns to help restore ecological function to these natural communities.
  • Specific objectives for our burns this year are
    • Removing dead Phragmites thatch to allow native plants to re-establish and let us more easily treat Phragmites that was not killed last fall
    • Stimulate native plants
    • Control non-native invasive woody plants
  • Prescribed burn can be used to treat invasive plants over large areas and can be more cost-effective than other treatment options.

Smoke:

Although burns create smoke, we work to minimize the amount of smoke produced and limit public exposure to the smoke. We do this by only burning under conditions that allow the smoke to rise and disperse in the correct direction. The wind will be out of the southwest today, keeping smoke off major roads. We can also change how we ignite the fire to control how much smoke is produced at once.

To get more information.

If you have questions, concerns, or special needs that require you to be contacted the day of the burn, please contact the parks office at 248-651-7810. The office staff will pass on important concerns to Ben VanderWeide, Natural Areas Stewardship Manager as needed. Residents can call our prescribed burning hotline at 248-651-7810 ext. 289 to see if we are burning on a particular day. You can also visit oaklandnaturalareas.com/prescribed-fire to learn more about how we use prescribed fire to manage our natural areas.

Here are a few photos from our 2008 prescribed burn at Gallagher Creek Park.

One of our major objectives for the prescribed burn is to remove dead Phragmites from areas that we treated last fall. This will help native plants re-establish and help us re-treat any Phragmites that re-sprouts this year.
One of our major objectives for the prescribed burn is to remove dead Phragmites from areas that we treated last fall. This will help native plants re-establish and help us re-treat any Phragmites that re-sprouts this year. Photo from the 2008 burn at Gallagher Creek Park.
Phragmites burns hot, but we plan the burn so that we have non-flammable areas downwind of the burn area.
Phragmites burns hot, but we plan the burn so that we have non-flammable areas downwind of the burn area. Photo from the 2008 burn at Gallagher Creek Park.
Botanical surveys found prairie plants in the upland areas at Gallagher Creek Park. Prescribed burning helps keep the shrubs from choking out these sun-loving plants.
Botanical surveys found prairie plants in the upland areas at Gallagher Creek Park. Prescribed burning helps keep shrubs from choking out these sun-loving plants. Photo from the 2008 burn at Gallagher Creek Park.

About Ben VanderWeide

I am the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation in southeast Michigan. I have a doctorate in biology (focused on plant ecology) and I am passionate about protecting and managing natural areas.

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