Controlled Burns

Weather permitting, the Parks Department conducts beneficial controlled burns, also called prescribed burns, in our natural areas from fall to spring. A prescribed burn is an important tool for improving ecological conditions of important plant communities.  A prescribed burn can inhibit the growth of low-quality invasive weeds while stimulating the growth and production of high-quality native plants.  The site will green up quickly in the spring. The first burn is scheduled to be done at Charlemagne Park.

If you have any questions or health problems that may be exacerbated by smoke generated during a prescribed burn and would like us to notify you the day of the burn, please contact Steve Bessette at 847-285-5473 for sbessette@heparks.org.  Each year, our Parks Division has scheduled ecological burns for several of our natural areas throughout our parks. The burns are an effective way of burning away plant life. There are many benefits to this process, including helping to eliminate non-native, invasive plant species, adds nutrients to the soil and stimulates native species. To learn more, read on or watch a short video.

Are burns safe?
The Park District has two Prescribed Burn Managers on staff who are certified by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. A Prescribed Burn Manager is present onsite at each burn to conduct safe controlled burns. Prior to a burn, wind direction and speed, humidity, air temperature and the type of vegetation and amount of moisture in the vegetation are all considered. The fire and police departments are notified the day of a scheduled burn a minimum of one hour prior to starting and are notified at the end of the burn. While the smoke does emit carbon into the atmosphere, research suggests that by stimulating the accelerated growth of plants, burns actually benefit the ecosystem in the long run. Wildlife is safe as well, as they will instinctively evacuate the area and benefit from the renewed plant growth long term.

There are 30 natural area sites tentatively scheduled and permitted throughout the district this burn season. The permit process and scheduling begins in July and the burn season runs from Nov. 1 through Apr. 30, depending on the weather.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Parks Department at 847-285-5473.