If weather conditions are safe, portions of three county parks will undergo prescribed burns. At 11 a.m., Hager Park (Georgetown Township) will be the first to go up. From there, teams will move to Grand River Park (also Georgetown Township) and then to Upper Macatawa Natural Area near Zeeland.
Some areas of each park may be unavailable to visitors before, during and after the burns.
When most people think of fire within a park, they think of a disaster. These controlled burns, however, are safe and cost-effective tools for combating invasive species, parks officials explained. Prescribed fires are intentionally set and allowed to burn under controlled settings.
Plans were carefully developed by the Ottawa County Parks natural resource manager, Melanie Manion, along with the certified fire managers from PlantWise Restoration LLC.
The Ottawa County burns are designed to control invasive honeysuckle, spotted knapweed and autumn olive. At the same time, the fires are expected to stimulate the native plants and wildflowers.
The wildlife in the area will return to the park meadows following the burn. In fact, fires like this often result in even more diversity than prior to the fire, parks officials say.