Weather Forecast


Controlled burns scheduled for USFWS lands

Beyond the pavement, spring really isn’t declared by a date on the calendar.

Mother Nature actually decides when it arrives each year. Telltale signs for outdoor enthusiasts include that fresh smell that emanates from the earth as the ground is thawing, calls of northbound migratory birds as they return from southern wintering areas, and the sight of sheets of open water throughout the landscape. For some it’s the sight of smoke columns on the horizon.

Smoke will soon be in the air above numerous U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands throughout Western Minnesota. Spring is a time of renewal.

Beginning in April, Service staff on National Wildlife Refuges and Wetland Management Districts throughout Western Minnesota will attempt to mimic what was historically a natural ecological force (uncontrolled wildfire), through the use of prescribed fire.

Controlled burns rejuvenate prairie, woodland, and wetland habitats by consuming accumulated dead vegetation, stimulating new growth, and controlling non-native plants. In turn, wildlife enjoys improved habitat conditions for reproductive needs, security (cover), and foraging.

Additionally, prescribed burns help to protect our neighbors in the event of a wildfire. Periodic controlled burns reduce hazardous fuel loads and ultimately reduce the threat of wildfire to adjacent private lands.

Prescribed fires led by the Service are carefully planned and personnel go to great lengths to minimize any inconvenience to local residents, whenever possible.

Burns are typically conducted when the prevailing winds carry smoke away from homes and busy roads, but this strategy becomes more challenging as more and more homes are built adjacent to National Wildlife Refuge System lands. Despite a burn crew’s best efforts, smoke occasionally crosses a road.

Crew members are prepared with road signs and trained personnel to provide for public safety, if smoke impacts a roadway.

The Prescribed Fire Program in the Service’s Midwest Region is consistently regarded as one of the best throughout the nation. The success of the program is no accident.

The dedication and professionalism of the region’s core fire staff and the support of other refuge staff ensures its success. If you have questions or concerns, please call Ryan Frohling at 218-844-3403.

The Service improves wildlife habitat through the careful use of controlled burns on more than 400,000 acres of National Wildlife Refuge System lands each year. The mission of the Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

The Service is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for its scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on Service projects, visit

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the National Wildlife Refuge System that includes more than 540 refuges nationwide. Within Becker County, the Service is represented by the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, and the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District.