The USDA Forest Service will be conducting prescribed burning over the next two weeks in parts of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.                          Preparations are being made to conduct burning as weather permits.

This week, burning will be conducted tomorrow, Thursday, December 5 and Friday December 6 at the following locations:

East side of Highway 53

  • Turtle Pond Seed Beds
  • South of the intersection of Hoff Road and Highway 53
  • Approximately one mile east of the Hoff Road parking area

West side of Highway 53

  • River Road Seed Beds (west side of Highway 53; on the north side of River Road (River Road and South Boathouse Road)

On Wednesday, December 11 and Thursday, December 12, burning will be conducted in the Henslow units that lie north and west of the Explosives Road parking area.

USDA Forest Service staff will initiate prescribed fire operations as weather patterns shift to favorable, modest temperatures and moderate humidity that is conducive to burning. Wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity and measurable moisture in vegetation are all taken into consideration.

At Midewin, since 1996, volunteers and staff have been working with over 275 native Illinois prairie plants in an effort to restore and enhance natural areas. Approximately 3,000 acres of land are actively undergoing restoration or enhancement, and several tools are necessary to attaining restoration goals. Some of the restoration tools include invasive species control through judicious herbicide application; field mowing; hand-pulling invasive plants; brush removal and use of prescribed fire. Use of prescribed fire is among the most effective and necessary pieces of the restoration process.

Prescribed fire provides the following benefits:

  • Reduces hazardous fuels;
  • Minimizes the spread of plant and animal disease;
  • Removes invasive species that threaten species that are native to an ecosystem;
  • Provides forage for animals;
  • Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species; and
  • Recycles nutrients back to the soil; and promotes the growth of forbs, tallgrasses, wildflowers and other plants.

Photo Caption: Prescribed burning on the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie   Photo by Mike Bittner / USDA Forest Service