Fields On Fire

Don’t be alarmed if you see various parks around town go up in smoke. Members of the Naperville Park District have recently been conducting controlled burns at many parks around town. They do it every spring and fall as part of their yearly burns.

“It helps wipe out the invasives so the native plants have a chance to grow,” Park Specialist Kelly O’Brien explained. “[It] wipes out any of the weeds.”

Park specialists say burning the weeds and brush helps the natural grass to grow better than simply mowing.

“The burning gets you closest to the soil. You get your nutrients back into the soil that would help those native plants grow before the invasives come in and take over,” said O’Brien.
It takes more time to prepare the site than it does to actually burn it.

“You want to check wind direction, check out if you have slope, what the fuels look like,” said Kristi Solberg, also a park specialist. “You want to check all that to make sure you can actually get a fire going.”

And to get a good fire going, it takes a good wind, going away from traffic, as well as warm temperature, and low humidity. After last winter, Park District staff said the grass is in perfect condition for a controlled burn because it has been compacted by the snow.

“You get a nice back burn. It’s hotter and it’s slower so all that compacted grass can burn. If it’s up in the air, it’ll just go right passed it whereas this compacted slow fire will hopefully get all of the grass,” said Solberg.

The fire only lasts about five to ten minutes and a few weeks later, the grass will be restored to its natural look.

“What we’re doing is a good cause. We’re not just out here burning fires. It’s helping with the vegetation and the natural areas to keep Naperville beautiful,” said O’Brien.

The Park District plans on burning more than 40 of the 136 Naperville parks throughout the Spring.

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