DNR fire staff resume prescribed burns statewide

Contact: Paul Rogers, 616-260-8406
Agency: Natural Resources

March 19, 2021

A firefighter in protective gear conducts a prescribed burn in brushy grasslandDon't worry if you see wildland firefighters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and partner agencies starting fires on grasslands or at the edges of forests this spring and summer.

They're conducting 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.

In 2019, DNR firefighters conducted prescribed burns on more than 8,800 acres. Prescribed burning was suspended throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It took time to develop procedures to make sure firefighters stay 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.

Two fire staff attend a burn line in a forestPrescribed 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. 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.

The DNR's interactive map, "Prescribed Fire Explained," explains the benefits of prescribed fire and how it works.

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

Prescribed_burn: A firefighter conducts a prescribed burn.

Burn_line: Firefighters attend a burn line in a forest.

Underbrush_fire: Prescribed fire reduces flammable underbrush./