Controlled Burns

Three members of burn crew start fire in grasses and watch for safetly

When intentionally ignited and managed, fires in the landscape are called controlled burns.  Controlled burns are used to maintain biodiversity and resilience in forests, prairies, and wetlands. Controlled burns can also be a tool in ecosystem restoration to revitalize native plantings and reduce invasive species cover.

Controlled burns are conducted by trained staff and contractors, with safety and smoke management as top priorities. All controlled burns are in collaboration with local fire authorities. The burn will be done in a slow and deliberate manner, with water tanks and other safety equipment on hand. “Burn Breaks”, or fuel-free zones, will be created on all sides of the burn to contain the fire.

Since burns are conducted during specific weather conditions, scheduling the burn date in advance is not possible. Controlled burns most often occur in spring and fall. Below, we have anticipated locations for controlled burns at Washtenaw County Parks and Preserves for 2022.

If there is a controlled burn occurring at a facility, there will be signage at the parking lots, along roadways, and on trails as needed. Facilities are not always closed during burns and staff will direct visitors to keep a safe distance.

2022 Controlled burn locations: Burns-Stokes Preserve, County Farm Park, Goodrich Preserve, Independence Lake County Park, Leonard Preserve, Sharon Mills County Park, Staebler Farm County Park, Watkins Lake Preserve, and Whitmore Lake Preserve.

Questions? Please call the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation stewardship team at (734) 971-6337.

A field with fire along the edge and controlled burn crew members lighting the middle.