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As the ice finally melts in the Iowa Great Lakes and spring quickly approaches, so does one of the most important and cost-effective management tools for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The Iowa DNR plans to conduct prescribed burns within selected wildlife complexes in Dickinson, Cherokee, O’Brien, Lyon and Sioux counties between April 1 and May 20 to improve wildlife habitat, control invasive plant species and maintain native plant communities.
Ground nesting birds such as pheasants, mallards, teal, bobolinks, dickcissels and many others benefit from the habitat improved with periodic prescribed fire for nesting and brood rearing. Burning sets back invading brush, removes the accumulated thatch and reinvigorates native plants by simulating what occurred naturally for centuries.
Areas are typically burned every one to five years, if possible, and vary in size from a few acres to several hundred acres. Burns are conducted on days that meet the objectives and weather guidelines defined in the burn plan. Any prescribed burns that are not able to be completed this spring may be considered for the burn schedule next fall.
Possible areas scheduled for prescribed burns in Dickinson County include Spring Run, Cayler / Santee Prairie, Center Lake, Christopherson Slough, Diamond Lake, Dugout Creek, Garlock Slough, Hales Slough, Kettleson Hogsback, Welch Lake and West Okoboji Wetlands Complex.
Scheduled areas in O’Brien and Cherokee counties are within the Waterman Prairie Wildlife Complex, north and south of Hwy. 10, five miles west of Peterson and four miles east and south of Sutherland. In Lyon and Sioux counties, areas along the Big Sioux River Complex may also see some prescribed fire.
For questions or concerns about prescribed burns, contact Chris La Rue, wildlife biologist for the Great Lakes Wildlife Unit, at 712-330-4543 or 712-336-1485.