DNR Starts Winter Burns

Photo by Wisconsin DNR.

The Wisconsin DNR says fire management crews are starting to perform prescribed burns throughout the state.

DNR crews will burn cattail marshes, wetlands, prairies, and oak/pine barrens to open waterways for waterfowl to feed and nest. By burning in winter, staff take advantage of wet conditions, which reduces the heat and intensity of burns.

Winter burns mark the beginning of the fire management season for DNR crews. Prescribed burning will continue through spring and open again in late summer and fall (mid-July through November).

Prescribed burns support healthy ecosystems for many plants and animals in Wisconsin. Historically, periodic fires (either lightning or human-caused) would remove the dead vegetation while stimulating native plant growth. Marshes, wetlands, and the native species there have adapted to periodic fire and even depend on it.

Planning a burn can take months. Crews must be ready when the appropriate weather conditions are right for the burn. DNR staff decide to conduct these prescribed burns only when weather and vegetation conditions meet strict standards for safety, smoke management, and burn effectiveness. Even after such careful planning, weather forecast evaluations, and vegetation moisture measurements, each burn is reassessed on the morning of the burn.

When conducting prescribed burns near roads or recreational trails, the DNR will post signs to notify the public. For your safety, avoid these areas while the burn is happening.

For a more detailed look at historical, current, and planned DNR-prescribed burns, visit the DNR Prescribed Fire Dashboard: https://dnrmaps.wi.gov/prescribedburndashboard/