DuPage County To Schedule Controlled Burns Of Forest Preserves

The burning is part of a twice-a-year effort to get rid of non-native plants

Bernie Tafoya
October 24, 2018 - 10:05 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Expect to soon see burning sections of forest preserves in the Chicago area, part of a twice-a-year effort to get rid of non-native plant species.  

Scott Meister, manager of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District said native plant species not only survive controlled burns, but grow back stronger. The same cannot be said of plants that should not be in the woods.

"The plant species that originated in Europe or Asia have shallow root systems, so when we utilize controlled burns, not only do we top-kill the material they see on the surface, but, the fire is strong enough to singe and kill the very shallow root systems of those non-native plants," he said.

The prescribed burns have not yet begun. 

"We anticipate our burns will begin in the next couple of weeks. We’re still waiting for the fuels, or the prairie vegetation to cure a little bit more. Right now, they’re still quite green so there’s a lot of water content in them and they’re not quite ready to burn yet," Meister said.

He said the public will receive warnings about what's going on.  People who live in areas near where the controlled burns will take place will receive notices in the mail. Meister also said, "even the motorists that are driving by, we typically put out signs alerting them to the prescribed fires in effect, that there’s no emergency and no need for them to call local officials."

Meister said animals that would be in the area of any controlled burn have ways to get out of the area or, in the case of snakes and turtles, ways of going underground to avoid the smoke and flames. 

Officials said last year there were 95 controlled or prescribed burns over more than 2,400 acres of forest preserves in DuPage County.