Rochester plans controlled prairie burns throughout spring

Several burns are planned in city parks as part of prairie grass maintenance.

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ROCHESTER — The Rochester Fire Department and Rochester Parks and Recreation will be conducting controlled burns as a means of prairie grass maintenance throughout the city as the snow melts.

Areas targeted for maintenance during the upcoming weeks are those that have prairie grasses that are not typically mowed in summer months.

Participation of the Rochester Fire Department provides a training opportunity for firefighters to experience situations that are hard to replicate in a normal training environment. Additionally, controlled burns reduce the risk of uncontrolled fires during dry seasons.

Prescribed burns are beneficial for prairie and native plant ecosystems because they:

  • Warm the soil and increase microbial activity, allowing new grasses and plants to grow.
  • Kill some invasive species and insect populations.
  • Allow more sunlight to penetrate the ground by burning off last season’s leaf and grass litter.

Prescribed burns require dry weather and low wind speeds, thus they cannot be scheduled in advance. These activities will occur between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday this spring. Residents are encouraged to close their windows if they notice fire trucks staging next to the parkland areas since there is the potential for smoke or ash in the air.
Planned controlled burn locations are:


  • Cascade Lake Park, including the island.
  • Century Hills.
  • Essex Park.
  • Fox Trails.
  • Gamehaven Reserve.
  • Homestead Prairie.
  • Northern Hills Prairie.
  • Prairie Crossings.
  • Schmidt Park.
  • Silver Lake.

Burns are carried out in the spring and fall as time allows. Locations not burned this spring will be prioritized in the fall.

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