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USDA Forest Service to Conduct Restorative Prescribed Burning at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Prescribed burning on the USDA Forest Service - Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Photos by Michael Bittner / USDA Forest Service

As weather permits, the USDA Forest Service will begin conducting prescribed burning over the next several weeks in parts of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. This week, there are plans to conduct prescribed burning, if weather is conducive, on November 11, 12 and 13 in the north part on the west side of IL State Highway 53.

USDA Forest Service staff will initiate prescribed fire operations as weather patterns shift to favorable, modest temperatures and moderate humidity that is conducive to burning. Wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity and measurable moisture in vegetation are all taken into consideration.

At Midewin, since 1996, volunteers and staff have been working with over 275 native Illinois prairie plants in an effort to restore and enhance natural areas. Approximately 3,000 acres of land are actively undergoing restoration or enhancement.

Several tools are necessary to attaining restoration goals. Some of the restoration tools include invasive species control through judicious herbicide application; field mowing; hand-pulling invasive plants; brush removal and use of prescribed fire. Use of prescribed fire is among the most effective and necessary pieces of the restoration process.

 Prescribed fire provides the following benefits:

  • Reduces hazardous fuels
  • Minimizes the spread of plant and animal disease;
  • Removes invasive species that threaten species that are native to an ecosystem;
  • Provides forage for animals;
  • Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species; and
  • Recycles nutrients back to the soil; and promotes the growth of forbs, tallgrasses, wildflowers and other plants.
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