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Prescribed burns to begin across Dane County next month

Source: City of Madison Engineering

Prescribed burns to begin across Dane County next month

Controlled prescribed burns are important to Wisconsin's plant life, killing off invasive species and allowing native plants to flourish.

February 22, 2024 12:52 PM CDT

By: Nate Wegehaupt

MADISON, Wis. (WMDX) – With spring just around the corner, officials across Dane County are set to begin controlled prescribed burns next month. In Madison alone, city engineering officials will conduct over 60 burns throughout the year. 

Most prescribed burns are done in the spring, when native plants have not yet begun to green up and grow, but invasive plant species have already started actively growing. Madison engineering officials say fire is a natural part of Wisconsin’s native landscape, but modern fire suppression has led to excessive woody species growth, invasive plants, and a lack of plant diversity. Controlled burns can help restore balance to the natural communities by removing built-up plant litter, and encourage growth for more conservative plant species. 

Because of the danger a prescribed burn can pose, they are only done when weather conditions are just right. Because of this, city engineering officials are unable to give exact dates for when they will conduct a prescribed burn. When they do a burn, officials will send residents who live within 400 feet of the burn site a postcard letting them know a burn will be taking place, and will contact city leaders to let them know when and where a burn will be happening. They will all post notices and signs on roads and paths near the burn site letting people know that a controlled burn is underway.

Prescribed burns are conducted by certified staff or contractors who are experienced in the field. Madison engineering says that the safety of people, property, and wildlife is their top priority, and all burns are reviewed and approved by the Madison Fire Department. 

Burns will also happen in the city of Middleton in the coming weeks, at Tiedeman pond, Frank Lloyd Wright wetland, Graber pond, and Stonefield prairie. Middleton officials say that residents should not be alarmed by noticeable smoke or fire in those areas in the coming weeks. 

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