Research Shows Benefits From Growing Season Prescribed Burns

Research Shows Benefits From Growing Season Prescribed Burns

An increasing number of studies across the upper Midwest including research conducted by DNR Research Scientist, Jed Meunier, suggests that spring may not be the most effective time to conduct prescribed burns to achieve brush control. In fact, some data show spring burning can cause up to a two-fold increase in re-sprouts on some of the woody plants targeted for control.

A recent newsletter from the WDNR states that the WDNR would like to continue conducting prescribed burns during the growing season for the following reasons:

    • In spring, conditions can be too wet or dry to burn. Burning in the summer gives the DNR additional opportunities to use prescribed burns as a management tool. This shift in timing is important as climate change may reduce the chance to conduct burns during the spring.
    • Burning in the summer ensures that wildlife species more sensitive to spring burns, including those whose young may be less mobile and at greater risk of perishing in spring fires, have more opportunities to thrive in the habitat they need and avoid direct mortality.
    • Varying the timing of burning means that different species have a chance to respond after each burn, increasing plant diversity.

To determine if a summer prescribed burn is the right tool for the time frame, DNR field ecologists, forestry and wildlife management staff will identify a site’s known plant and animal species, especially rare species, to understand how a summer burn might impact them based on established avoidance dates or state/national guidelines. They will also assess potential issues related to smoke production from the fire during that time of year.

To view planned, current and past prescribed burns visit the DNR’s Prescribed Fire Dashboard.


Cover photo: DNR burn crews conducted prescribed burns in late summer at several state properties, including Perry/Primrose Bird Conservation Area in Dane County / Photo Credit: Michael Kienitz