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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is preparing to conduct four controlled burns this fall in Porter and Lake Counties. The planned burns are: Miller Woods Unit 7, Mnoke Prairie, Burns Ditch, and Derby Ditch. Three of the controlled burns are located on National Lakeshore property and the fourth is on both National Lakeshore land and The Town of Ogden Dunes. The Miller Woods Unit 7 burn consists of approximately 10 acres located east of Lake Street in the City of Gary near the Paul H. Douglas Environmental Education Center. The Mnoke Prairie, 196 acres, is located north of Beam Street and west of U.S. Route 20 in Porter. The approximately 100 acre Burns Ditch Unit is east of the Town of Ogden Dunes and west of Burns Ditch. The Derby Ditch controlled burn consists of approximately 200 acres located near the Town of Beverly Shores, east of East State Park Road, west of Broadway Avenue and north of U.S. Route 12. The purpose of all four burns is hazard fuel reduction, native habitat improvement, and exotic species removal.
A very specific set of safety and environmental conditions or "prescription" must be met before any burns are conducted. The prescription is just one component of a detailed burn plan that has been prepared, reviewed and approved by numerous fire experts and National Park Service managers. These burn plans emphasize the safety of area residents, park visitors, park employees, and firefighters.
Controlled burns are a management tool that benefit people, plants, and animals. Carefully planned and closely monitored burns remove accumulated dead plant material under controlled conditions, significantly reducing the threat of uncontrolled wildland fires in and near the National Lakeshore. They also promote the healthy growth of native plants that support the variety and abundance of birds and animals found in these natural areas.
These controlled burns will be executed by specially trained and equipped wildland firefighters under the direct supervision of experienced fire officers with advanced training. The National Lakeshore has safely conducted nearly 100 controlled burns on 7,000 acres of park property since 1986.
Information regarding these controlled burns will be distributed to nearby residents and businesses before the burns are conducted. Because decisions to carry out controlled burns are based on predicted optimum weather conditions, controlled burns are scheduled only 24 hours in advance. Every effort is made to limit the short-term inconvenience to nearby residents and park visitors, however, smoky conditions may temporarily exist in and near these burns.
For additional information contact Acting Fire Management Officer, John Weber, at (219) 926-7561, ext. 357 or Prescribed Fire Specialist, Neal Mulconrey, at (219) 926-7561, ext. 325.