EMPIRE, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – As Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes prepares for the summer season, the National Park Service announced it will be conducting several prescribed fires at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore this spring.

Where and when are the prescribed burns?

NPS staff shared that it would not host any prescribed burns until the weather would allow for a safe burn. Once conditions are approved, the NPS plans to burn more than 100 acres in the Good Harbor-area of the park.

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“This burn unit is located west of County Road 669 (Bohemian Road) and between West Lake Michigan Road and the beach. Portions of this burn unit may be excluded due to native cedar tree stands and National Lakeshore infrastructure,” reads a news release from the NPS.

Two prescribed burns are also planned to occur in the Platte Plains-area of the park.

“The 515-acre Otter Creek unit and the 416-acre Bass Lake unit were both previously burned in 2021. Prescribed fire in this area is used to maintain healthy ecosystems, replenish fire dependent ecosystems, reduce available fuels in areas, control encroaching vegetation, and assist with the management of invasive species,” the news release states.

Michigan fire season underway according to officials.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) firefighters responded to nearly 400 wildfires last year, and are warning about this year’s fire season.

“Don’t be a statistic,” said DNR fire prevention specialist Paul Rogers. “The No. 1 cause of wildfire is escaped debris burns. Having a clear understanding of expected weather conditions is critically important when planning any burn.”

According to the latest Fire Report Dashboard report from the Department of Natural Resources, there have been 19 fires in 2024 through the last week of March.

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Looking back over the last decade, 2015 and 2018 took the lead for the highest number of fires with 348 and 301, respectively. However, over the same time period, Michigan had the most acres burned, with 3.7K acres burning in 2023, and in 2018 when 3.6K acres burned.

The Fire Report Dashboard also revealed that burning debris accounted for the highest number of wildfires, followed by equipment, and miscellaneous reasons.

DNR Firefighter safety recommendations for Michiganders.

While human activity is the largest driver of wildfires, it is recommended that Michiganders take steps to mitigate the risks associated with fires and have tools in place to be proactive.

When you burn, the DNR recommends:
– Always have a water source nearby
– Never leave a fire unattended, even for a minute
– Keep a metal shovel and bucket nearby
– Put out fires completely with water every time
– Do not burn on windy days or during dry weather

Some counties require the use of burn permits when taking care of debris. Be sure to check to see whether burning is approved in your area.