Indiana Dunes National Park Reveals Plans for Prescribed Fires This Fall

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Wildfires have been increasing in intensity with every passing season within the United States. The fires have left firefighters to light growing numbers of controlled burns as a result. As the 2022 wildfire season slowly nears its end, Indiana Dunes National Park has revealed its plans for controlled burns this fall.

According to WIMS Radio, the National Park Service plans to light seven controlled burns throughout the park this fall. Firefighters will scorch grounds covering a total of 1,400 acres. Per the outlet, a handful of the burns are “carryovers” from last spring as the burns could not be completed due to “unfavorable weather conditions.” More than likely, the state’s wildfire season got off to an earlier start than wildland fire experts were expecting.

These are the regions of Indiana Dunes National Park that the NPS plans to burn out this season:

  • East Indiana Dunes National Park near Central Avenue Beach including the 215-acre Kansas Ave Unit
  • Dunewood Campground (77 acres)
  • Central Indiana Dunes National Park near Dune Acres including 517 acres of the Howes Prairie/Lupine unit
  • Burns Ditch unit in/near Portage Lakefront and River Walk area near Ogden Dunes (150 acres)
  • 93 acres along Long Lake unit west and south of Ogden Dunes
  • Tolleston Dunes Burn in Gary (330 acres)

Overall, the national park‘s upcoming controlled burns are intended to help reduce the threat of future wildfires by burning up fuel like dry vegetation and brush. The outlet also states the burns will help “maintain native ecosystems.”

More specifically, the Tolleston burns will help in restoring 330 acres of rare black oak savanna.

National Park Service Desperately Working to Protect Giant Sequoias From Intensifying Fires

Controlled burns are an important and necessary wildfire prevention method. It sees firefighters manually setting dried vegetation and brush on fire, burning off any potential fuel for potentially destructive blazes. However, while these have proven to work well in the past, intensifying fires have forced the National Park Service and wildland firefighters overall to work more frantically. In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, experts are hard at work trying to protect the United States’ family of ancient sequoia trees.

Altogether, there are 11 giant sequoia tree groves, all of which are currently under threat of wildfire danger. On Friday, October 14th, wildland firefighters ignited a controlled burn to help burn off dead vegetation just as the NPS will do in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Though these controlled fires seem relatively simple, there is actually a litany of conditions required to make controlled burns safe. Wildfire experts take into account wind speeds and direction, as well as relative humidity. Once the fires are set, firefighters are then tasked with monitoring weather conditions during the blaze, in case wind speed picks up or humidity plummets, making for greater fire danger.