Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, March 22, 2010

Prescribed burn planned for North Campus

The Plant Operations Grounds Services department, with the support of the University Planner’s Office and Occupational Safety & Environmental Health, is planning to conduct two controlled burns in areas of North Campus this month and into April.

The areas to be targeted are the native and wildflower garden on the east side of the Bentley Library and the oak-hickory wood lot west of the Space Research Building. 

An experienced contractor, Plant Wise, will conduct the burns. Plant Wise specializes in ecological burns and native plant restoration. It is recommended for ecological reasons to conduct these burns sometime this week and through April 7, when weather and ground conditions are appropriate. 

The Department of Public Safety and OSEH’s Fire Safety Services, as well as the Ann Arbor Fire Department, have been involved in this planning and will issue the appropriate permits. The burns will be conducted during conditions that will minimize the direct effect and persistence of smoke.

Fire is an important land management tool and part of a critical regenerative process for several ecosystems on campus. Many areas treated with fire have significantly more blooming wildflowers in the following years. In addition, fire helps us control many of the exotic invasive plants that are reducing the native biodiversity in natural areas. 

During the burn, most animals find cover by retreating to burrows, flying away or moving to surrounding areas. Only a small section of the Bentley Library campus and a fraction of the Space Research wood lot will be treated. Smaller animals need only be a half-inch underground to easily avoid the heat of the fire. While U-M will not be conducting a large burn, generally animal habitat is improved as a result of fire in sites that have been burned in the Ann Arbor area.

For more information about prescribed burning in Michigan, go to the Michigan Prescribed Fire Council’s Web site www.firecouncil.org.