Prescribed Fire Managers with the Champaign County Forest Preserve District plan to do annual prescribed burning of forest, prairie, wetland, and old fields through the month of November. Prescribed fires will take place at Lake of the Woods and River Bend Forest Preserves in Mahomet, Sangamon River Forest Preserve in Fisher, Homer Lake Forest Preserve in Homer and the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve in Penfield. Prescribed burns are weather permitting and will be conducted during the day.
Fire Managers are certified in several classes of prescription and local fire agencies are contacted prior to any burns.
This management is part of an ongoing effort to improve forest and prairie health. Reintroducing fire into the ecosystem will reduce hazardous fuels and promote native species' competitive advantage over invasive species.
Prescribed burning is a method used to promote healthier, more vigorous woodlands and grasslands. The burns are supervised with fire breaks and boundary lines and are conducted by trained individuals after notification of local fire protection districts.
Burning promotes growth by clearing the nonnative and invasive plant growth. The controlled fires kill or restrict invading vegetation and recycle nutrients back into the soil.
This procedure is usually done in fall and spring when plants are dormant and birds are not nesting. After a burn, annual plants that had seeds in the soil grow quickly in the absence of competition, and perennials sprout easily from roots. Many tree species, such as oaks, are not killed by fire and grow more vigorously as they are adapted to survive periodic fires.
Two or three years after a burn, seed and fruit production increases, which provides more food for wildlife. Importantly, animals are rarely, if ever, endangered by prescribed burning. Rodents and snakes retreat into burrows, birds fly away, and larger animals move out of the area temporarily.
Prescribed burning is an important management tool being used to improve the quality of Champaign County's woodlands and prairies. For more information, contact our Natural Resources Department at (217) 586-4630 or [email protected].