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No worries: That smoke you see over Spring Lake Township is a planned burn

Contributed • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:58 PM

The prescribed burn will take place on state-managed land on two islands: Dermo and Poel.

“Typically when conducting prescribed burns involving phragmites, dense black smoke is emitted from the dead plants,” explained Lee Osterland, fire management specialist with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “This is no cause for alarm as it is a normal part of the burn and the smoke isn’t caused by a toxic material. When developing the plan for all burns, we carefully consider all conditions to minimize the burn’s impact on the surrounding area.”

Prescribed burns are planned to achieve specific objectives – oftentimes simulating the benefits of natural fires. The burns are conducted by highly trained DNR personnel in designated state-managed areas during appropriate weather conditions and in cooperation with the proper authorities and local units of government.

In addition to controlling invasive plant species and improving wildlife habitat, prescribed burns are used to help with forest regeneration and reduce the risk of wildfires.

Before a burn is conducted, experienced DNR fire staff studies the area and carefully develops a burn plan to maximize the desired effects of fire while assuring safety procedures are in place. The burn plan is essentially the "prescription" for how to safely conduct the burn while accomplishing the management objectives.

The burn plan focuses on minimizing the effects of smoke and through the use of specialized DNR firefighting equipment – ensuring that the fire stays well within the established perimeter.

“A lot of planning and preparation goes on before we begin burning,” Osterland said. “DNR fire staff works closely with wildlife biologists to make sure burn objectives are being met and habitat improvement is achieved. Prescribed burns are conducted under strict supervision with experienced staff.

“Safety is always our No. 1 concern.”

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