Prescribed Ecological Burn TODAY at Bear Creek Nature Park and Charles Ilsley Park

After a good start on Friday, we continue the burn season today at Bear Creek Nature Park and Charles Ilsley Park. We will start at about 11 am at Bear Creek Nature Park, moving to Charles Ilsley Park after that burn is complete. If you’d like to observe the prescribed burn at Bear Creek Nature Park, please meet at the “Skating Pond” observation dock at 11 am.

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. The sites we are burning today are oak woodlands that have little oak regeneration in the understory and emerging infestations of invasive plant species. We are using prescribed fire to encourage oak regeneration and knock back the invasive plants.

Spreading fire with a drip torch at Gallagher Creek Park on Friday, March 20, 2015.
Spreading fire with a drip torch at Gallagher Creek Park on Friday, March 20, 2015.

Who:

Plantwise LLC will conduct the prescribed burns at Bear Creek Nature Park and Charles Ilsley 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 23, 2015. We will start at about 11 at Bear Creek Nature Park and move to Charles Ilsley Park after that burn is complete.

Where:

  • Bear Creek Nature Park (740 W. Snell Road. The prescribed burn unit is in the northeast corner of the park.)
  • Charles Ilsley Park (1479 E Predmore Road. The prescribed burn unit is in the northeast corner of the park.)

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 today are
    • Encourage oak regeneration
    • Stimulate native groundcover plants on the forest floor
    • 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 northeast 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.

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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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