CADILLAC – The USDA Forest Service is planning to conduct prescribed fires this year on the Huron-Manistee National Forests (HMNFs). Fire management has identified wildfire fuels reduction projects as opportunities for prescribed fires in Wexford, Manistee, Lake, Mason, Oceana, Newaygo, Alcona, Crawford, Iosco and Oscoda Counties. Alerts will be placed on the Huron-Manistee’s social media to inform the public that a prescribed burn may be occurring in their area.
“Prescribed fire is instrumental in reducing hazardous fuels that increase the danger of wildfires, and threaten public and firefighter safety,” said John Norton-Jensen, Huron Zone Fire Management Officer.
During the planning phase, Prescribed Fire Burn Plans are prepared considering a variety of ecological concerns and agency policies. “Project locations are selected based upon wind speed and direction, relative humidity and temperature, fire danger and seasonal restrictions, as well as potential smoke impacts,” added Norton-Jensen.
Manistee Zone Fire Management Officer Ben Wagner stated, “Prescribed fires are conducted with the safety of the public and firefighters as the highest priority. They will only occur when appropriate resources are available. At times we may need to temporarily close Forest roads and trails. The Forest Service will notify the public of these closures by posting signs and using social media.”
During the operational phase, “Firefighters secure the lines and monitor the fire until it is considered extinguished,” assured Wagner noting that any fire lines created will be allowed to grow back with vegetation. Wagner noted that, “smoke may be seen, and smelled, many miles away for several days afterwards.” Burning material is extinguished near the outer edges, while interior logs and stumps may burn for a few days following ignition.
The Michigan Prescribed Fire Council notes that prescribed burning has long been recognized by land managers as a management tool capable of impacting biological diversity. It can encourage and discourage plant growth, reduce thatch and duff, increase nutrients, increase rates of solar soil warming, and expose mineral soils for better seed germination.
Prescribed fires also play fire’s natural role in the many ecosystems on the Forests. Species such as white-tailed deer, turkey, butterflies, songbirds, grouse and turtles use burned areas for food, cover and a place to raise their young.
For more information on current prescribed fires on the HMNFs, please visit Huron-Manistee NFs Spring RX Burning Information – InciWeb the Incident Information System (nwcg.gov).