Using Controlled Burns to Restore Natural Areas

In the last week, you may have noticed an increase of photos on Facebook about controlled burns or perhaps even seen one in progress at a forest preserve or other natural area. In the Midwest, early spring and fall are the seasons for controlled burns – also called prescribed burns – and they are managed by natural resource professionals and trained volunteers to help restore natural areas.

Members of the Chicago Wilderness alliance are dedicated to protecting the lands and waters on which we all depend, which involves actively restoring and managing natural communities. Historically, naturally occurring fires helped maintain the native habitats in the Chicago Wilderness region. Today, controlled burns help control invasive vegetation and stimulate the germination and growth of many native plant species. To promote the safe and correct practice of controlled burns, Chicago Wilderness hosts trainings to provide individuals with the knowledge and experience necessary to safely join the crew of a prescribed burn.

Chicago Wilderness Controlled Burn Photography at Bemis Woods, Cook County. © Carol Freeman

Organizations throughout the region provide daily updates and educational materials about controlled burns to explain why this process is important for the natural environment. Below is a list of the forest preserves in the region and please visit the Chicago Wilderness Restoring Nature webpage for more information.

Photo courtesy Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts about volunteer programs and opportunities that get you outside and contributing to the health of nature!


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