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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 545 days

Spring prescribed burn activity to take place on DNR lands

Contact(s): Michele Witecha, DNR Prescribed Fire Specialist, 608-333-3664
April 23, 2019



MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will be conducting prescribed burns on DNR properties throughout the state during a window of optimal conditions this week and into May.

Prescribed burning is one tool DNR uses to preserve and restore landscapes found within state-managed properties throughout Wisconsin. In fire-dependent habitats, these burns mimic the natural benefits fire historically provided: a decrease in dead grass (thatch) buildup, improved spaces for wildlife to feed, nest, and raise young, and an increase in native grass and wildflower growth. A significant number of habitat types in Wisconsin have developed throughout history with periodic fire occurring across the landscape. Many of these habitat types, such as prairie, wetland, oak/pine barrens, and oak savanna, would not exist without fire occasionally restoring the balance between open grass and brush.

The application of prescribed fire can help reduce the presence and spread of brush within this tallgrass prairie. Increased growth of native grasses and wildflowers after the burn will lead to an increase in insect abundance - which is crucial for fledgling grassland bird survival. - Photo credit: DNR
The application of prescribed fire can help reduce the presence and spread of brush within this tallgrass prairie. Increased growth of native grasses and wildflowers after the burn will lead to an increase in insect abundance - which is crucial for fledgling grassland bird survival.Photo credit: DNR

DNR staff make the decision to conduct prescribed burns only when weather and vegetation conditions meet strict standards for safety, smoke management, and burn effectiveness. If prescribed burns are conducted near roads or recreational trails, signs will be posted to notify the public on the morning of the burn. For public safety, people are asked to avoid these areas while the burn is being conducted. To view where DNR prescribed burns are occurring across the state, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "WisBURN," then click on "View Current Fires," and from the "show" dropdown menu select "Today's Prescribed Burns".

DNR staff spend months comprehensively planning each prescribed burn, and also begin pre-season preparations and refresher trainings in January. For burn safety and smoke management reasons, specific weather conditions are required for each prescribed burn to occur. Staff assess weather forecasts (temperature, relative humidity, windspeed and direction) and vegetation moisture to determine if fire behavior will be within the desired range and meet the objectives of the burn. As weather forecasts can change leading up to the burn day, the decision to burn is re-evaluated in the morning and at the burn site. Where required, local law enforcement and fire officials are notified in advance when and where DNR prescribed burns will take place.

For more information regarding the benefits of prescribed burning in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "prescribed fire." Written or verbal comments are encouraged, and can be directed to Michele Witecha, DNR prescribed fire specialist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI or at 608-333-3664.

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Contact information

Need an expert? Contact the Office of Communications.

The Office of Communications connects journalists with DNR experts on a wide range of topics. For the fastest response, please email DNRPress@Wisconsin.gov and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.