GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has put together its prescribed fire season for the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

This year, they have burns planned in nine counties: Alcona, Crawford, Oceana, Oscoda, Lake, Manistee, Muskegon, Newaygo and Wexford.

“Prescribed fires reduce the impacts of wildfires and allow fire to play its natural part in many ecosystems on the Huron-Manistee National Forests,” Forest Fire Fuels Officer Brian Stearns said in a release.

Stearns says a specialized plan is developed for each burn and alerts will be posted along the land and on social media.

“Project locations are selected based upon a variety of parameters, including wind speed and direction, relative humidity and temperature, fire danger, seasonal restrictions and potential smoke impacts to best reach the identified resource objectives specific for the project area,” Stearns stated.

Forest Service personnel will be on site for several days, monitoring results “for as long as there is visible smoke.” Firefighters typically extinguish the flames around the outer edges of the burn while logs and stumps may burn for a few days even after the primary fire is out.

The Forest Services says that “the right fire at the right place at the right time” are an efficient way to manage forests. Prescribed fires cut down the number of hazardous fuels that could spread a wildfire and put nearby communities at risk. They also minimize the spread of “pest insects” and the diseases that they carry, provides new forage for game and returns nutrients back to the soil.

These burns will help dozens of different animals in northern Michigan.

“Burned areas create ideal habitat when it regenerates,” Stearns stated. “Species such as white-tailed deer, turkey, butterflies, songbirds, grouse and turtles use burned areas for food, cover and a place to raise their young.”

More information is available at the Forest Service’s webpage for the Huron-Manistee National Forests.