Urbana Park District will conduct prescribed burns this spring. The park district burned a natural area in Meadowbrook Park last week.
Weather permitting, the park district plans on burning a natural area in Weaver Park this week.
The park district burns natural areas once every three to five years.
“Without fire, the native prairie would succumb to invasive shrubs and trees and land managers would need to manually remove encroaching trees to maintain the prairie. Fire also is beneficial to prairie nutrient cycling and germination of new prairie plants,” said Matt Balk, Natural Areas Coordinator.
The park district sends out burn notices to immediate park neighbors in the spring. “We inform 911 dispatch prior to the burn that they may get calls about smoke but we have it contained,” Balk added.
Before each burn, park district staff and trained personnel inspect the area and make sure everything is safe. The staff makes sure park visitors do not encroach on the burn area and usher people to safety.
The park district also makes sure to leave an unburned natural area to serve as shelter and refuge for wildlife.
All of these burns are subject to the weather and could be scheduled or canceled at the last minute. “Once all the preparations are in place, we watch the weather closely during burn season and can call our team together and be able ready to burn in under 24 hours. We use forecasts to predict potential days to burn but weather can change quickly and we are always prepared to call off a burn if the conditions won't allow for a safe burn,” Balk explained.