For thousands of years landscape scale fire has shaped the habitats and ecologies of Illinois, the Prairie State. Today prescribed fire is the most important management practice in maintaining and restoring healthy landscapes. The future of Illinois natural areas depends on repeated application of large scale fire; fire that will keep brush from taking the sunlight from woodlands, wetlands and grasslands.
This is the first systematic report in Illinois documenting the number of acres being burned annually and identifying how many acres need to burn annually to maintain and restore ecosystem health. This review is a call to action for land managers, legislators and the general public.
This Assessment Demonstrates:
Key Data Points
To simply maintain the current condition of Illinois natural areas and to restore degraded acres to ecological health in the future, dramatically more prescribed fire needs to be implemented across the state. Prescribed fire programs urgently need considerable increases in budgets and funding in order to effectively manage Illinois natural areas. It is imperative that state leadership, agency administrators and the general public understand the profound importance of prescribed fire and the vital role it plays in managing Illinois’ natural wonders.
Recommendations of the Prescribed Fire Council: