By Jessica Mathews /

Fire staff with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are resuming prescribed burns statewide.

Officials say there’s no cause for alarm if people notice wildland firefighters from the MDNR and partner agencies starting fires on grasslands or at the edges of forests this spring and summer as they’re conducting prescribed burns. A prescribed burn is said to be the carefully considered use of fire to improve wildlife habitat, get rid of invasive plant species that can crowd out native plants or help reduce debris on the ground that could fuel large wildfires. Prescribed burns are one way the DNR keeps public lands and forests healthy. The burns are planned to achieve specific objectives – often simulating the benefits of natural fires.

Burns are conducted by highly trained DNR personnel in state-managed areas during appropriate weather conditions and in cooperation with the proper authorities and local units of government. Public safety is said to be a top priority during all prescribed burns. Burns may be canceled at the last minute due to careful monitoring of weather and wind conditions.

In 2019, DNR firefighters conducted prescribed burns on more than 8,800 acres – including in some local state recreation areas. Prescribed burning was suspended throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it was said to take time to develop procedures to make sure firefighters stay safe.

Dan Laux, fire section manager for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, said fire is an important tool to help maintain and improve the landscape and they’re glad to be out there again.