Sleeping Bear Dunes to conduct prescribed fires this fall

From staff reports

The National Park Service plans to conduct prescribed fires in three burn units this fall at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The fire is a tool intended to restore habitat in forested ecosystems in the park. The burn unit in Leelanau County covers approximately 75 acres within the National Lakeshore’s Leelanau District, between Pyramid Point, Bohemian Road, and the northern area of M-22, which is in the same vicinity of this past spring’s successful burns. In Benzie County, the burn units cover approximately 930 acres in the Platte District, between Otter Creek and Bass Lake (Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 2023 Spring Prescribed Fires (arcgis.com). Federal staff have performed prescribed burns twice around Bass Lake in May 2019 and May 2021, and once around Otter Creek May 2021.

Some of the roads and trails in the interior of the National Lakeshore will be closed briefly during the active burning period. To ensure safe execution of the prescribed fires and effective conservation of the plant communities, the burns will be conducted only under a specific set of weather and fuel conditions, or “prescription.” The actual burn dates will depend upon NPS fire staff monitoring weather forecasts and fuel moisture to determine if and when prescription conditions are met. If conditions are not met for burns this fall, these units will be targeted for prescribed burning in the spring of 2024. In addition to safety, smoke dispersal is a primary concern. Wind direction and speed will be monitored prior to ignition to minimize smoke drifting into developed areas and roadways from the fire location. Trained and experienced federal fire personnel will conduct the prescribed fires.

The areas to be burned contain unique, fire-dependent plant communities known as dry and dry-mesic northern forests and wooded swale. All are important to the diversity of the Sleeping Bear Dunes ecosystem. In addition, burning under controlled conditions will reduce fuel loads and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfire in the future. Additional information on Wildland Fire Management at the National Lakeshore may be found at home.nps.gov/slbe/learn/nature/wildland-fire-management.htm.