How controlled fires save the habitat

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Michigan residents may occasionally see some smoke this spring from controlled burns.

The Michigan DNR carries out prescribed fires in different areas of the state year-round, but mostly in the spring and fall.

Trained staff use specialized equipment to light and control the fire. Weather is carefully monitored during the burns and can be canceled if conditions are not favorable.

These carefully staged fires help control invasive species and create critical habitat for wildlife. The planned fires also remove natural materials that could provide fuels for bigger wildfires.

In Michigan, plants and animals are adapted to co-exist with fire. Some species, like jack pine trees, even depend on fire for survival. Burned areas regrow quickly, providing food and shelter for animals.

Before European settlement in Michigan, fires were ignited by Native Americans or lightning strikes. Today, fires are quickly suppressed for safety reasons, but certain landscapes like pine forests, grasslands and prairies can still benefit from fire.

Prescribed burns also provide an opportunity for Michigan firefighters to receive valuable training by providing an opportunity to learn about wildfire behavior in a controlled environment.

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