For the first time, firefighters led by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources conducted a prescribed burn Tuesday at Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County to maintain openings for historical purposes.
The fire was intentionally set and then monitored to create openings at the park.
“Burning this 5 acres of 15 prescribed cleared brush and woody vegetation, including ground juniper and cedar, re-opening what would have been the infield of the half-mile, oval-shaped horse-racing track,” said Randy Brown, park manager. “The area burned is located southeast of the historic town site at the the park. The open area better replicates conditions present during the years the town was bustling in the 1800s.”
Thirteen DNR firefighters were working on the prescribed burn, assisted by Fayette park staff and a half-dozen firefighters from the Garden Township Fire Department.
Prescribed burns are one way the DNR keeps lands and forests healthy.
The burns are planned to achieve specific objectives – often simulating the benefits of natural fires.
The burns are conducted by highly trained DNR personnel in designated state-managed areas during appropriate weather conditions and in cooperation with the proper authorities and local units of government.
Public safety is a top priority during all prescribed burns.
Fayette Historic State Park blends both nature and history. The park features a historic town site, a modern campground, harbor slips, a boat launch, a beach and 5 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, with impressive views from the limestone cliffs that surround the harbor.
The historic townsite, a once busy iron smelting industrial community surrounding Snail Shell Harbor, features more than 20 historic buildings.
A visitor center provides ample opportunities to learn about life in a 19th century industrial town through interpretation provided by the Michigan Historical Center. Visitors can take guided tours or self-guided walks.
The prescribed burn at Fayette Historic State Park was among several conducted Tuesday by the DNR within Delta, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Otsego and St. Clair counties.
DNR firefighters will continue to conduct prescribed burns this spring across Michigan, as conditions allow.
In addition to creating open space for historical purposes, prescribed burns are used to help with enhancing wildlife habitat, forest regeneration, restoring and maintaining native plant life, controlling invasive plant species and reducing the risk of wildfires.
Although prescribed burns are planned, they can be canceled at the last minute due to careful monitoring of weather and wind conditions.