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posted: 3/17/2014 9:08 AM

Learn how prescribed burns aid ecological restoration

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  • Learn how to use a prescribed burn to aid in ecological restoration at the March 22 program with the McHenry County Conservation District.

    Learn how to use a prescribed burn to aid in ecological restoration at the March 22 program with the McHenry County Conservation District.

Submitted by MCCD

You know that fire can be beneficial to natural ecosystems, but how do you know when the time is right? Have you ever been curious about what it takes to plan and implement a prescribed burn?

Find out how at "Prescribed Fire in Ecological Restoration" from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood.

Prescribed burning refers to the use of fire as a management tool, in which managers control the timing and extent of fires to have the maximum ecological benefit at a minimum cost, and to do so while ensuring the safety of the fire crew and the public.

Because most native ecosystems of the Midwest formed under the influence of recurrent fires, prescribed burning is the single most important management tool that a conservation district uses in ecological restoration.

This workshop, run by McHenry County Conservation District restoration ecologist Jeff Murray and McHenry County Conservation District restoration technician Adam Rex, will provide Chicago Wilderness Crew Member Burn Training certification. Part of the class will be outdoors, so dress for the weather. Bring a lunch and something to drink.

The program is for those ages 14 and older. Registration and fee is required by Thursday, March 20. Fee is $40 for McHenry County residents and $45 for nonresidents. Register online at, by mail and walk-in at Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road in Crystal Lake, or walk-in only at Lost Valley Visitor Center, Route 31 and Harts Road in Ringwood.

"Prescribed Fire in Ecological Restoration" is part of McHenry County Conservation District's People and Nature Program. The program is designed for private land owners, homeowners, natural areas stewards, and anyone interested in how nature works and how we can work to protect our natural heritage.

Over the course of a year, workshops are offered on the ecology of Illinois landscapes, prescribed burning, controlling weeds, restoring native vegetation, historic land use, tree and plant identification, and geology and soils.

Courses can be taken by themselves in your area of interest or taken as a series to earn an Ecological Restoration certificate.

Call Tom Simpson, research field station ecologist and coordinator of the People and Nature Certificate Program, at (815) 678-4532, ext. 8218, for more information or visit