Prescribed burns may take place soon in national forests

MARQUETTE — Fire managers on the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests intend to begin utilizing prescribed fire as a forest management tool in the coming weeks.

Prescribed fire makes forests more resilient, creates habitat for a diversity of wildlife and keeps nearby communities safer from future wildfire by reducing accumulated debris, according to a release from the United States Forest Service.

This week, Hiawatha fire personnel anticipate conditions that may allow them to implement prescribed fire in both zones of the Hiawatha National Forest. On the East Zone, crews hope to burn the Dick Settlement Rx Fire east of Trout Lake. On the West Zone, firefighters may implement the Mike White Rx Fire located south of the Thunder Lake road east of Straits Lake.

All project initiation is dependent upon several factors, including but not limited to favorable weather and site conditions, officials said. Each burn area requires a different “prescription,” which determines what wind direction and speed, temperature and fuel moistures are required for any planned burn to proceed. There are a limited number of days with favorable burning conditions during the year which are often the days when there is an elevated wildfire risk. The firefighters have prepared these burn units so they can take advantage of these fleeting opportunities when they occur, the release states.

Each burn has a site specific burn plan that directs the prescribed fire managers on where control lines are placed, what equipment is needed and specific weather parameters to ensure the burn will meet resource objectives, but also remain in the area that has been identified for burning. Utilizing fire as a management tool has its inherent risks, however. Only qualified prescribed fire practitioners will be burning in areas that have been identified long before the match is struck.

For more information about Hiawatha National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/hiawatha or contact the office in Gladstone at 906-428-5800, Munising at 906-387-2512, Rapid River at 906-474-6442 or St. Ignace at 906-643-7900.