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Prescribed burn management is utilized in Chicago Park District Natural Areas to achieve several objectives: (1) Reduce the spread of weeds and undesirable woody vegetation; (2) Promote the growth of native plants; (3) Enrich and return nutrients back to the soil by burning off dead vegetation on the ground; (4) Encourage plant
germination by allowing sunlight to warm the dark soil. This management technique is used widely by land managers throughout the Midwest and the country by federal, state and local municipalities. Without fire, natural areas are likely to become thickets of shrubs or weeds with little variety of plant and animal life.


The Chicago Park District notifies neighborhood groups, city officials and park councils at least two weeks prior to the burn season if a burn is planned in their district. In addition, signs are posted at the natural area entrances prior to the burn. On the day of the burn, the Park District notifies the fire departments and city officials. Fire departments are called at the beginning and end of each burn.

The Chicago Park District Department of Cultural and Natural Resources carefully assesses the needs of each natural area to determine the management needs of that site. Once the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the City of Chicago grant a permit to the Chicago Park District to carry out the prescribed burns, a professional prescribed burn manager prepares a burn prescription plan specific to each individual site. The burn plan includes areas targeted for the burn, ignition patterns, and the location of firebreaks. A firebreak is anything, such as a road, a mowed path, or a burned strip of land, which will stop a fire and contain it to a controlled area. The burn plan also specifies ideal weather conditions, number of staff, and type of equipment needed and the ecological goals of the burn. Only professional, well-equipped, fully trained burn crews carry out the prescribed burns under the supervision of the prescribed burn manager. On the day of the burn, the crews carry cell phones and two-way radios. Ample portable water tanks and a water truck are also present the day of the burn.


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FACT SHEET-Prescribed Burn-November 2019.pdf19.52 KB 19.52 KB