Two Early Season Prescribed Fires at National Lakeshore

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Date: September 15, 2015
Contact: Mica Bell, 219-405-0125

The National Park Service is planning two early season prescribed fires this week at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The first burn is a 7-acre parcel near the Tolleston Dunes Parking lot just west of Ogden Dunes on US Highway 12. The second burn area is 10 acres in size in the Miller Area of Gary, about one mile west of the park’s Douglas Center for Environmental Education on North Lake Street.

Black oak savannas are rare fire dependent plant communities that represent a transition between the prairies to the west and eastern forests. The savanna is highly diverse due to the availability of both light and shaded areas; they support flora and fauna with wide ranges of habitat needs. Without frequent fires or mechanical treatments, brush and trees will flourish- shading and replacing prairie grasses and forbs and the land will transition to woodlands. Park staff use both mechanical treatments and prescribed fire to maintain these critical habitats.

Traditional fall and spring burning occurs when plants are dormant. These burns generally top kill small woody plants that will quickly re-sprout from their root systems. Research suggests that burning during the growing season will reduce the potential for undesirable woody species to re-sprout and give an edge to the much needed flowering plants. These two small prescribed burns will test the effectiveness of burning areas with dense shrub cover late in the growing season in hopes that altering the timing of the burns will provide greater shrub control and favor native grasses and wildflowers.

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.

For more information on these two prescribed fires at the national lakeshore, contact Mica Bell at 219-405-0125.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is part of the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 408 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help protect our nation’s most valuable resources for this and future generations. Learn more at 

Last updated: September 15, 2015

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