Ann Arbor’s controlled burn spring season will kick off on Feb. 17

NAP staff and volunteers conduct a controlled burn in Ann Arbor. (City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation)

ANN ARBOR – The City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation will begin its controlled ecological burn season on Feb. 17.

The spring season will run through May 26 and burns will take place on weekdays between 11 a.m.-7 p.m. All burn locations will have signage and staff will be on site for individuals who have questions.

Ecological burns are under control at all times, according to a NAP release.

NAP asks that anyone with health concerns over the potential for smoke exposure from the burns is asked to contact NAP prior to the start of the season so they can adapt to minimize risks to residents.

NAP’s annual public meeting and Q&A on controlled burns will take place at its office on Wednesday, Feb. 15 from 7-8:30 p.m. The address is 3875 E. Huron River Drive.

For those who are unable to attend and would like to learn more, you can visit, email or call 734-794-6627.

Below are some FAQ’s from NAP’s website:

Where will we burn?

During the Spring 2023 season, NAP has permits to burn in the following locations: Arbor Hills Nature Area, Argo Nature Area , Bird Hills Nature Area, Buhr Park, Cedar Bend Nature Area, Dolph Nature Area, Folkstone Park,  Furstenberg Nature Area, Hansen Nature Area, Huron Hills Golf Course Woods, Huron Parkway Nature Area, Leslie Park Golf Course, Leslie Woods Nature Area, Marshall Nature Area, Mary Beth Doyle Park , Miller Nature Area, Oakwoods Nature Area, Redbud Nature Area, Ruthven Nature Area, South Pond Nature Area, West Park , and the NAP office at 3875 E. Huron River Drive.

Why burn?

Our native Ann Arbor ecosystems are fire-dependent. Until settlers began suppressing fires in the early 1700s, fire enriched the soil and removed dead thatch, allowing diverse native plant and animal communities to thrive. Continued fire suppression has allowed fire-intolerant, non-native plant species to out-compete the native, fire-adapted plants. By reintroducing fire in our parks, we are reinstating an essential ecosystem process.

What is involved in conducting burns?

NAP staff evaluate each site and develop a burn plan that provides information on the specific ecological objectives of the burn, preferred weather conditions to minimize smoke, ignition pattern, location of burn breaks to safely contain the fire, equipment, contingency plans, and emergency phone numbers. City and Township fire marshals review the plans before issuing the necessary permits. NAP then waits until weather conditions are within the range specified in the burn plan before proceeding.

How can you volunteer with NAP for controlled burns?

Anyone interested in assisting with NAP’s controlled burns can register for the required training session to be held on Thursday, February 16, from noon to 5 p.m. Register through VolunteerHub by February 15. Call 734-794-6627 or email for more information. A portion of the training will be held outdoors.

Due to the ability for weather to change quickly, NAP does not schedule controlled burns in advance. NAP posts information about burns on the day of on its Facebook page.

For more information, visit NAP’s controlled ecological burn webpage.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.