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Saint Paul Parks and Recreation utilizes prescribed burning as a tool to manage natural areas throughout the city. Fire is a natural and healthy part of many Minnesota ecosystems and prescribed burning is way to improve a site’s ecological function. Prescribed burning promotes healthy and stable ecosystems. Fires reduce the buildup of dead vegetation, recycle nutrients back into the soil, and act as an efficient and cost-effective way to control invasive species. Reducing invasive species and promoting rigorous native plant growth is critical to maintaining a suitable habitat for Saint Paul’s wildlife. Environmental Services staff members determine locations for burning based on ecological need. Once a site has been selected, staff members draft a burn plan for review by Saint Paul Fire and Safety and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. After the burn plan is approved, Environmental Services can initiate the prescribed burn when weather and other conditions are favorable for a safe and well-controlled fire.
Environmental Services staff members also receive fire training from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to responsibly perform prescribed burns. Depending on the complexity and size of the site, there may be anywhere from two to five trained staff members present to supervise the burn and to educate park visitors on the site-specific benefits of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation's burn program.