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The National Park Service will conduct five prescribed fires this spring at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The planned burns are the Howes Prairie/Lupine Lane, West Beach, Marquette Trail, Tolleston Dunes and Mnoké Prairie prescribed fires. The Howes Prairie/Lupine Lane unit is south of the Town of Dune Acres and east of Mineral Springs Road to Waverly Road comprising148 acres in size. The West Beach unit encompasses 64 acres of land on either side of the West Beach entrance road and north of the entrance road around to the picnic shelter. The Marquette Trail burn is 45 acres and is along the north side of the Marquette Trail in Gary’s Miller neighborhood. The Tolleston Dunes prescribed fire is 63 acres of land west of Union Street across the street from Woodlake Village Apartment complex in Gary. The 196 acre Mnoké Prairie fire area is off of the west end of Beam Street in the Town of Porter. In a joint effort with the United States Geological Service the national lakeshore will burn approximately 60 small research plots throughout the park to study the effects of fire on the invasive plant, oriental bittersweet.
Prescribed fire is used by the National Park Service for historic landscape restoration, ecosystem restoration, invasive species eradication, and protection of biodiversity. 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 starting the prescribed burn. 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. Firebreaks, such as creeks or mowed lines, are used to reduce the likelihood of fire spreading to areas outside the prescribed burn location.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 392 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/INDU.