The Department of Natural Resources used the windy, dry day as an opportunity in Kalkaska County.
They set a fire…
Their goal: helping nature grow.
9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Derrick Larr takes us to the 300-acre prescribed burn from the ground and the sky to find out why they’re doing it.
It takes a lot of scientific preparation, years in advance, to control a fire of this magnitude and this size.
The DNR is planning it every step of the way.
"Once we start the process of the ignition, there’s a lot of different moving pieces,” says Steven Cameron, DNR Forest Fire Supervisor.
Fire fighters using fire to help nature grow…
Cameron has conducted burns for 20 years.
"The process starts years in advance,” Cameron says. “Of course, it’s a wildlife burn so the wildlife biologists are the ones to submit the request for this to happen."
The DNR have to strategically draw lines with fire, so to speak, to make the fire controlled and moving forward.
It’s hard to see from the ground, so the DNR gave us permission to put our eye in the sky.
"We’re in a complex of three sections that are mile square and we have rotational burns that we do every three to five years on one of the units on the sight,” Cameron says.
That’s nearly 300 acres.
Cameron says the conditions have to be perfect.
"It’s a short window and we don’t know the day of or the day before when we can burn it,” Cameron says. “It’s a lengthy, 15-page plan that goes over the weather, contacts of neighbors and agencies to advise them of it."
It’s a careful process.
Cameron says it scorches the way for new grass for deer and turkey…and a better habitat.
"It’s a science,” Cameron says. “Lighting in certain places, starting downwind, there’s a big planning process that has to be followed in order to make it happen successfully."
This prescribed burn is not the only one the DNR has done today.
They’ve done other ones across the state, including another Kalkaska County burn that covered 150 acres.
"There’s a big chunk of state land in this area and we monitor and actually treat this area with prescribed burning because there is so much wildlife out in this area,” Cameron says. "We don’t rush it. Of course, safety is our primary goal with everything that we do. We don’t want to push the issue."
Cameron says if you are setting fires of your own, check to see if burn permits are available.
To do so, take a look at the DNR’s burn permit map.
"It’s important to make sure that burn permits are being issued for their area before burning,” Cameron says. “In these areas, we have a lot of sandy soils. It can be rainy the day before, but fires can occur the next day. It’s really misleading."