Prescribed Fire Explained

icon prescribed burn

Click here to visit the prescribed burn story map!Forest fire experts occasionally will plan fires. These prescribed burns help control invasive species, create critical habitat for wildlife and help Michigan's forests grow. They also remove natural materials that, left unchecked, could provide fuels for bigger wildfires.

Here's how it works:

This story map will give you an in-depth look at how and why the DNR conducts prescribed burns.

Burns can take place any time of the year but are usually are conducted in spring or fall. Foresters, wildlife biologists and other natural resources professionals evaluate the area and write a plan to help them achieve their goals. Trained fire staff uses specialized equipment to light and control the fire. Throughout the burn, they monitor safety, site conditions and the weather.  A site may require multiple burns before it reaches desired conditions.


In Michigan, plants and animals are adapted to co-exist with fire. Some species, like jack pine trees, even depend on fire for survival. Burned areas regrow quickly, providing abundant food and shelter for animals.

Before European settlement in Michigan, fires were ignited by Native Americans or lightning strikes. Today, fires are quickly suppressed for safety reasons, but certain landscapes like pine forests, grasslands and prairies can still benefit from fire. That's where prescribed burns come in.

Prescribed burns also provide an opportunity for Michigan firefighters to receive valuable training. DNR fire staff as well as local fire departments can learn about wildfire behavior in a controlled environment.

For a map of previously burned locations, visit

Michigan Prescribed Fire Council




Subscribe to prescribed fire updates:

Get notified of upcoming burns in your area.