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DNR Planning a Prescribed Burn on the Grand River in Ottawa County

Aaron Francis, Getty Images

The Department of Natural Resources is planning a prescribed burn on the Grand River in Spring Lake Township sometime this summer or early fall.

15 sites are being targeted. The sites range in size from an eighth of an acre to 2 acres.

The burn is aimed at phragmites, which an invasive plant that competes with native vegetation.

“The management of phragmites has a two-pronged approach in that it is first sprayed with herbicide and then burned the following year,” said Nik Kalejs, DNR wildlife biologist for Ottawa County. “Phragmites produces thick, nearly impenetrable vegetation that has very little to no value to wildlife. This management technique has been very effective in the past in mitigating the spread of this aggressive invader.”

Kalejs said that prescribed burning is necessary for the health of wetlands and many wildlife species.

The prescribed burn will take place on state-managed land on two islands: Dermo and Poel.

Because the Ottawa County burn is being conducted in highly visible areas, the DNR is working with local municipalities to ensure residents aren’t alarmed if they see flames or smoke.

“Typically when conducting prescribed burns involving phragmites, dense black smoke is emitted from the dead fuel,” explained Lee Osterland, fire management specialist with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “This is no cause for alarm as it is a normal part of the burn and the smoke isn’t caused by a toxic material. When developing the plan for all burns, we carefully consider all conditions to minimize the burn’s impact on the surrounding area.

Exactly when the burn will occur will depend on weather and other burn conditions.

So far in 2014, the DNR has completed 102 prescribed burns on 10,287 acres.

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