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Controlled Burns Under Way Across SE Michigan

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(credit: ThinkStock)

(credit: ThinkStock)

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DETROIT (AP) – Some blazes being set in and around Detroit aren’t malicious – they are just an attempt to manage invasive species.

Parts of the city’s island park of Belle Isle were set on fire last week, as was the Valley Woods Nature Preserve in suburban Southfield. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks have staged controlled burns on about 30 acres each of Oakland County’s Kensington and Macomb County’s Stony Brook parks.

“It’s a very good way to manage invasive species,” Southfield park planner Merrie Carlock told the Detroit Free Press for a story published Monday. “They don’t have any wildlife value.”

Carlock and other experts say the fires clear out undergrowth, burn invasive plants and repair and recover existing ecosystems.

Gary Crawford, an ecologist with Ann Arbor-based environmental consultancy ECT, said controlled burns serve a similar purpose as forest fires, which are a natural phenomenon that help clear forests for new growth and help seeds germinate.

He said when invasive species take over, the animals that relived on the previous plant-life for food and shelter leave – something he’s observed on Belle Isle.

Crawford said the season is almost over and officials hope for a few more dry days with good wind to complete the controlled burns for the year.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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