DNR uses controlled burn to weed out invasive species - WNEM TV 5

DNR uses controlled burn to weed out invasive species

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A prescribed burn. Firefighters carefully and skillfully ridding an area of unwanted growth.

"It's kind of a neat process," said Lee Osterland.

Today they were at the Nayanquing Point State Game Area in Bay County. The target, phragmites. An aggressive European weed that chokes out natural wildlife like cat tails. Osterland led the process. He's the fire management specialist for the state Department of Natural Resources.

"Phragmites is a big problem on the shorelines of all the great lakes. There's some areas where it's so prevalent coming up right around the houses and it's a major fire threat," Osterland said.

The prescribed burn was going as planned until about 12:30 p.m.

That's when winds switched from the west to the east, meaning smoke would end up going towards residential areas. Something firefighters did not want, so they stopped the operation.

"We like to see this area being able to be managed the way the DNR wants to manage it. But sometimes things like the weather interrupt it," said Marsha Standler.

Standler, an avid duck hunter, calls this place her second home. She came out to watch a show and said she enjoys watching these burns.

"I was really excited when flames were halfway up the trees. I took pictures with my cell phone. I'm going to put it on Facebook and show all the duck fans," Standler said.

In all, about 75 of the 150 targeted acres were treated for phragmites. Osterland admits it was disappointing to fall short of their goal. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

"It's hard work sometimes. Yep. We were in water up past our knees and it's a struggle but most of the time your successful, sometimes not so much but today was about 50-50," Osterland said.

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