City Engineering does a number of prescribed burns each year with residents and safety as a priority. When Engineering does a burn, it notifies residents in a communication process. Learn more about the full process prior to the burn and the morning of, which includes postcards, coordination with other city agencies and residents within 400 feet of the burn site.
Fire is a natural part of Wisconsin’s native woodland, wetland, and grassland communities. In modern times, fire suppression has led to imbalanced ecosystems with issues such as excessive woody species growth, invasion by exotic or aggressive plants, and lack of plant diversity. Controlled, intentional burns can help restore balance to natural communities by removing built-up plant litter, and encouraging the growth of more conservative plant species.
Greater plant diversity and more vigorous growth in turn benefits wildlife and increases the aesthetics of a planting. In addition, prescribed burns can also decrease the risk of a damaging wildfire by reducing fuel loads.
Most prescribed burns are performed in the spring before native plants have greened up, but at a time when some invasive species are already actively growing. Prescribed burns can set back the growth of such invasive plants while opening up the soil for the native plant growth. Burns may also be performed in the fall.
Fall burns are especially useful if the goal for a site is to increase the native plant diversity. After a fall burn the exposed soil creates an open bed perfect for sowing native seeds.
Many native plants require the cold, wet weather of winter to germinate and grow.
The City of Madison Engineering Division uses certified staff or contractors to perform prescribed burns on stormwater land. Staff and contractors who conduct prescribed burns on City land are experienced professionals who consider the safety of people, property and wildlife their highest priority. Prescribed burn plans are reviewed and approved by Madison Fire Department.