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  • By Lisa Brody

Controlled burn by city to occur at Booth Park

In an effort to stop the encroachment of invasive plant and restore the natural open spaces at Birmingham's Booth Park, a carefully controlled ecological burn is planned for one day, which will take place over the next 2 to 3 weeks, weather depending.

Birmingham's Department of Public Services announced the plan to conduct a prescribed ecological burn, which will be safe and carefully controlled by trained personnel. The city has contracted David Borneman LLC of Ann Arbor to conduct the burn. Borneman has over 28 years of professional experience all over the midwest conducting prescribed, ecological burns.

Borneman said he did a smaller burn at Barnum Park last year.

“Fire helps to control the invasion of open species,” Borneman said. “Any of the native prairie would really benefit from this.”

He cited, in particular, the invasion of buckthorn and other shrubs that have crept into the open areas and are overtaking the indigenous species.

Why use fire for maintenance? “Fire used to be a regular and frequent component here in the midwest,” he pointed out. “Many of our native ecosystems, such as prairies, oak-hickory woodlands, and certain wetlands burned frequently. Historically, these fires were started by Native Americans or by lightning. The fire stimulated many of the plant species to grow more vigorously and discouraged others that were not adapted to fire.

“Today, many non-native plant species have invaded our natural fire-adapted ecosystems, decreasing the diversity of native plants and animals,” Borneman continued. “By returning fire to a site, we begin to give the competitive advantage back to the native species and restore the site to its natural state.”

The burn has the approval of the Birmingham Fire Department, which issued a permit for the burn to be conducted.

Borneman said he can't answer exactly when the burn will occur, because it is weather dependent.

“You need the right kind of weather, clear, dry weather, with southeast winds to keep it away from homes,” he said.

The project should take just a few hours, he said.

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