Fires will soon be flaring up at Ramsey County parks and open spaces, but it’s all part of the plan.

The county’s Parks & Recreation Department will soon be conducting prescribed burns that will continue into May.

Exact times and dates of the burns can’t be determined more than a day in advance because of ever-shifting moisture levels and weather conditions. Whenever possible, burn dates will be announced on the department’s Twitter feed (@RamseyCty­Parks) and website at

Locations scheduled for the burns are: Long Lake Regional Park, Tony Schmidt Regional Park, the Grass Lake area of Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park, the west prairie in Battle Creek Regional Park, Benson Prairie in Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park and areas within Tamarack Nature Center. Burn areas will range in size from less than an acre to more than 50 acres.

Prescribed burns are controlled fires used to improve the growth of native vegetation, including shrubs, grasses and wildflowers. The fires also help control weeds and other undesirable plants. Fire is a natural process that helped form the prairies and woodlands in Minnesota, and the controlled burns conducted by the department mimic this process under safe conditions.

County staff and contractors who are experienced with fire control and management conduct the burns. A burn plan is written for each site, which includes safety equipment needs, weather conditions and the proper permits from state and local fire departments. The area to be burned is surrounded by trails or mowed firebreaks that prevent fire from spreading and escaping.

Wind restrictions included in the burn plans occasionally prevent some burns from being completed in their scheduled year.

Jim Anderson