The Park District of Oak Park conducts prescribed burns of the native plant areas for the purpose of improving the health of the plantings. These burns are are conducted on an annual basis at Taylor, Field and Lindberg Parks and Austin Gardens, weather permitting.
Prescribed burning is perhaps the most important tool in successfully managing restored ecosystems. Because our native plant communities have evolved with periodic fires occurring naturally, the native plant areas in our parks also depend upon regular burning to thrive. Conducting a prescribed burn is weather dependent and will only occur within the parameters for wind speed, wind direction, and relative humidity. Snow or ice cover and moisture level of the dead vegetation are also considered.
Prescribed burn will be conducted by experienced and certified crews that have extensive training and certification in fire behavior and logistics from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG). All prescribed fires are conducted with permits from the state Environmental Protection Agency divisions and the local fire department. Local fire and police departments are contacted prior to, during, and after the fire. This project is a Greening Initiative of the Park District of Oak Park.
Weather conditions necessary to conduct a prescribed burn include 1-3 days dry sunny weather before burn. This is to dry out the dead vegetation. Without sufficient drying time, the vegetation won’t burn even if the weather conditions on a particular day are perfect. On the day of the burn, the following conditions need to be met:
– Wind Direction: West – ideal, NW or SW is acceptable
– Wind Speed: 3 – 20 mph
– Low Relative Humidity
– Atmospheric Conditions: clear skies, stable forecast