Controlled burn season is starting in your Lake County Forest Preserves. The burns improve habitat for native plants and wildlife. Specially trained and equipped Forest Preserve staff and volunteers carefully conduct the controlled burns, selecting sites based on wind and other weather conditions.
Every spring and fall for the past 25 years, the Lake County Forest Preserves has safely conducted controlled burns to restore and improve natural plant and animal communities. Native woodlands, savannas, prairies and wetlands are fire-dependent communities that require regular controlled burns to maintain their ecological value.
Controlled burns replace historical fires that naturally occurred in Lake County for thousands of years. They decrease invasive woody plants, remove dead leaves, and expose the soil and seeds to the sun's rays. This encourages native plants to grow more vigorously and to produce more flowers and seed, increasing their populations. Wildlife populations are adapted to survive the burns. Most animals are safe underground or high up in trees; others move out of the way to avoid fires. Controlled burns are scheduled to avoid the breeding season of native wildlife.
Controlled burns are the most cost efficient management tool available to land managers. Forest Preserve staff and volunteers complete intensive training before conducting controlled burns to ensure that proper safety measures are taken to protect people, facilities, plants and animals in the preserves and on surrounding properties.
Over the next few months, you may see Forest Preserve crews of trained professionals burning high-quality habitats or restoration areas in forest preserves throughout Lake County. Wind and other weather conditions are monitored daily to help determine which preserves are selected for controlled burns.
Click here to find which preserve is scheduled to receive a controlled burn, and to learn more about the entire land management program.
Local fire and police departments are notified before and after each controlled burn. Forest Preserve staff closely monitor each burn with appropriate safety equipment and, if necessary, stay overnight on site.
Forest Preserve staff continues to provide specialized wildfire training to area fire departments to improve their skills when responding to fires that may happen in natural areas under their jurisdiction.
Information from the Lake County Forest Preserve District