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Prescribed fire explained

DNR fire staff conduct a prescribed burn in a forest area

Prescribed fire explained

Prescribed burns: renewing the landscape

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

How it works

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.

Explore prescribed burning with our interactive map

Some landscapes need fire to thrive

A Kirtland's warbler with a grey back and yellow belly sits in a green pine tree

In Michigan, plants and animals are adapted to co-exist with fire. Some species, like jack pine trees, even depend on fire for survival - their resinous cones won't open to release seeds unless exposed to heat. 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 and local fire departments can learn about wildfire behavior and learn new tactics and skills.

More information

Michigan Prescribed Fire Council

Network of prescribed fire practitioners

Mi Morels Map

Map of burn locations for morel foraging

Prescribed burn updates

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