EMPIRE, MI – The National Park Service is set to conduct widespread controlled burns at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for the first time.
The prescribed burns, which could happen as soon as this week, will occur in the National Lakeshore's Platte River District in Benzie County, between Esch and Peterson Roads and west of M-22.
The two areas The Peterson Road burn unit, which covers about 512 acres, and the Brass Lake burn unit, which covers 371 acres.
As a result, the White Pine Backcountry Campground and some of the small roads and trails in the park wants to be closed to visitors during the active burning period.
According to the NPS, the fire is a tool intended to restore habitat in forested ecosystems in the park.
The area to be burned contains unique, fire-dependent plant communities known as dry northern forest and wooded swale.
Dry northern forest is dominated by a mix of hardwoods and jack pine or red pine. Wooded swales are low areas between post-glacial ridges that support forested wetlands and a variety of wildflowers and other herbaceous plants.
Dunes ecosystem, according to the NPS, are both important to the diversity of the Sleeping Bear. National Lakeshore visitors to continue to experience an ecosystem that represents a bygone, a wild component of Michigan's natural history, "a NPS news release reads
"The burn will be conducted under a specific set of weather and fuel conditions, which will be monitored by NPS staff.
Safety and smoke dispersal are the primary concerns, and wind direction and speed will be monitored prior to ignition to reduce smoke drifting into areas and roadways from the remote fire location.