• A mid-afternoon veiw down the expanse of Isle Royale National Park.  Photo taken from the Mount Ojibway Fire Tower.

    Isle Royale

    National Park Michigan

Fire

In the summer of 1936, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan lay in the grip of a deep drought. On Isle Royale, slash from logging operations in the Big Siskiwit River drainage covered the ground. On July 25th, either man or lightning started a fire near the logging camp at the head of Siskiwit Bay. The fire eventually burned a large area west and north of the camp, consuming forests all the way from Lake Desor to Moskey Basin. It was not put out until September, when heavy rains helped the 1,800 firefighters who battled the blaze. The fire left a jumble of charred logs over 27,000 acres of the island.

Today, all human-caused fires are still suppressed, but approximately 95% of the park is in a Wildland Fire Use zone, where lightning-caused forces are allowed to burn under most circumstances. While this policy should allow fire to regain its stature as an ecological force on the island, very little area has burned since the early 1990s, despite some very dry summers. The combination of forest types (hardwoods, birch, and aspen) and moose browse impacts may have tempered the typically heavy build-up of fuels associated with decades of earlier fire suppression. May fire-adapted species, like white and jack pines, will likely decline without the return of regular burns.

The following are a list of the planning documents pertaining to Fire Management at Isle Royale park.

Fire Management Plan - Finding of No Significant Impact
Document Type PDF

Fire Management Plan 2004
Document Type HTML

Wildland Fire Use Implementation Procedures Reference Guide
Document Type HTML

Did You Know?

A sunset silhouette of a backpacker on a ridge.

Although the yearly number of visitors to Isle Royale is less than Yellowstone receives in a day, the Island's per acre backcountry use is the highest of all National Parks in the United States.