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The National Park Service is planning seven prescribed fires this spring at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Approximately 1,570 acres are expected to be burned. Fire is used as a tool for the park's long-term restoration and hazard fuel reduction efforts.
“During this spring fire season we have set some ambitious goals,” said Mel Whitenack, the park's new Fire Management Officer, "If we get favorable weather conditions, we will be able to burn more than 1,500 acres of park property between Gary and Beverly Shores."
In Gary, 31 acres east of Republic Steel and north of U.S. Highway 20 will be burned in a continued effort to restore the oak savanna habitat of the Miller Woods. In the Miller community of Gary, 173 Acres are set to be burned. The burn areas are east of the Douglas Center for Environmental Education on North Lake Street, north of 3rd Avenue and to the east of Banneker School along the Marquette Trail.
Southwest of the Town of Dune Acres, fuel accumulations will be reduced and habitat improved with the burning of 835 acres. Burning near Dune Acres helps to reduce the threat of wildfires to the town by limiting the amount of materials that could potentially burn in a wildfire.
In Beverly Shores, 530 acres of park land are scheduled to be burned in three sections. Near Kemil Beach Access east of East State Park Road to Derby Avenue 285 acres will be burned. On the east side of town between Montana Avenue and Central Avenue 217 acres will be burned. Twenty-eight acres of the Dunewood Campground will be burned to reduce woody debris and leaf litter around the campsites.
The prescribed fire program at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is conducted by trained and experienced National Park Service fire personnel. Smoke dispersal is a primary concern and park staff will do everything possible to limit smoke in the area by monitoring wind and atmospheric conditions prior to ignitions. However, smoke drifting in and around park lands and roadways is possible.
Clear management goals and objectives have been established for each burn unit. Before burning, a designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. Weather conditions will be monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure the fire is completed safely.
Residents of Porter County may sign up to receive prescribed fire notifications through Porter County's "Alert Porter County" system. As part of the program, residents can sign up to receive a text message, email or voice message when prescribed fires are happening at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Go to http://www.portercounty911.org to sign up for this free service. Additionally, the national lakeshore announces prescribed fire activity on its Facebook page, www.facebok.com/IndianaDunesNL