Prescription burns are considered an effective natural resource management tool
for restoring native prairies, wetlands and woodlands. Prescription burns generally take place in the early spring before new vegetation emerges and in late fall after the season’s vegetation has died. The Forest Preserve District’s first purposely set, controlled burn was conducted at Churchill Woods in Glen Ellyn in the mid-1970s.
Conducting prescription burns depends on the daily weather and other factors, so the District cannot schedule them in advance. Residents who live near planned burn locations receive notices in the mail, and on the morning of a burn, crews post signs and contact local fire departments.
Specially trained crews remain on the site throughout the process, which takes place only during daylight hours. If these factors are not present, the public should call 911 because they may be witnessing a wildfire.
“Fire is an important tool in our restoration toolbox,” said Erik Neidy, Forest Preserve District director of Natural Resources. “Prescription burns help us control invasive exotic plants
so desirable native species with deep root systems can thrive.”
Prescription burns are not to be confused with the catastrophic, uncontrolled wildfires the occur in the dense coniferous forests of the West, where an overabundance of flammable materials builds up and often enables fires to burn at extremely high temperatures and spread uncontrollably from treetop to treetop.
“Our oak and hickory woodlands in the Midwest do not provide the same type of fuel to cause the wildfires we see in the news,” Neidy said. “Prairies and forests used to burn regularly and were essential to the American landscape before the land was developed with homes and farms. We are bringing fire back to safely re-create what nature once did on its own.”
To learn more about prescription burns, watch “Why We Burn”
and “How We Burn”
videos, or visit the District’s prescription burn webpage
. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 6.2 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 166 miles of trails, six education centers and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, blog, Facebook, Twitter
and Instagram pages.