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Huron-Clinton Metroparks Partnered with City of Detroit Parks and Friends of Rouge Park to Perform a Prescribed Burn at Rouge Park

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks partnered with the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation to conduct a prescribed burn of the prairie inside Rouge Park on May 11 in efforts to restore wild habitats in the area.

Rouge Park is the largest park in the city of Detroit and includes a prairie – a unique type of habitat that requires specialized management practices. During a prescribed burn a specialized contractor controlled the burning of an area of the prairie. A prescribed burn like this requires permits and detailed plans ahead of time, along with appropriate weather conditions to ensure a safe and successful burn. Those watching the process may have mistaken it for a wildfire. It is a visually fascinating opportunity to watch when given the chance, and this time is was recorded by a drone to share the process with the public from a “bird’s eye view” that we don’t always get to see.

Prescribed fire is a proven management practice to maintaining healthy ecosystems and provides many benefits to prairies, which include:

●      Improving habitat for threatened and endangered species

●      Reducing hazardous fuels that can lead to extreme fires

●      Removing unwanted invasive species that threaten the native ecosystem

●      Minimizing the spread of pests

●      Promoting the growth of some trees, wildflowers, and other plants

Huron-Clinton Metroparks’ expert staff successfully manages this practice throughout many Metroparks habitats, and used a contractor to administer the process alongside the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation and Friends of Rouge Park to ensure the greatest safety and conservation impact potential for the region. The Metroparks launched their prescribed burn program in 2002 and safely burns over 250 acres in Metroparks locations every year resulting in healthy native ecosystems.

“We’re excited to team up with Detroit Parks and Recreation to share resources and support stewardship efforts in our region,” said Amy McMillan, Director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. “Our Natural Resources Department has staff experienced in prescribed burns and management of these unit types. We know that many of the Metroparks are a fair distance away from those living in the city, and this partnership was one way we could bring a little bit of the Metroparks closer to the city – the partnership just made sense.”

The implementation of a prescribed fire goes through various steps of safety approval and must be conducted under specific weather conditions. Local fire authorities approved the May 11 prescribed fire in accordance with the approved plan and were onsite for safety support the day of the event. The event took place successfully without any complications.

The drone footage can be watched on the Metroparks YouTube here:

Partnership background: This partnership is working to promote native species and biodiversity over multiple years by removing invasive species, performing prairie restoration, and improving the trails within the prairie area of the park. Biodiversity is important to sustaining productive, thriving ecosystems. Multiple species of flora and fauna work together, each performing their own role.

The partnership is also working to improve trails within the area so that park users have easier access to enjoy these natural areas close to home and build towards the 100-year anniversary celebration of Rouge Park in 2023.

But this is not the first time restoration and management work has taken place in Rouge Park. Detroit Parks and Recreation and the Friends of Rouge Park have been focused on the preservation of these areas for decades. You can read more about some of those efforts in this article (

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