ERCA burning Spring Garden Natural Area to maintain prairie ecosystem

An estimated 19 hectares of the city-owned property will be scorched as part of a prescribed burn.

Neighbours have been warned to expect smoke

ERCA crews along with fire departments, have ignited controlled burns in the Spring Garden Natural Area. The fires promote the growth and maintenance of native prairie species. (Kaitie Fraser/CBC)

The Spring Garden Natural Area in west Windsor will be up in flames Monday and Tuesday.

An estimated 19 hectares of the city-owned property will be scorched as part of a prescribed burn.

"Continued burning is necessary in order to maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem in the Ojibway Prairie area, which is the largest stand of tallgrass prairie remaining in Ontario," stated the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA).

Similar burns have been held over the past 30 years, but this particular region is being treated with fire for the first time. 

"The prescribed burn is a requirement under the permitting process that the Ministry of Transportation got from the Ministry of Natural Resources to put in the Herb Gray Parkway," said Dan Lebedyk, a conservation biologist with ERCA. 

Watch Lebedyk describe why the burn is necessary, and how it's done:

Conservation biologist Dan Lebedyk explains why ERCA conducts controlled burns. 0:57

Lebedyk said a portion of the habitat was impacted by the new highway and this burn is part of the maintenance work that had to be done to satisfy requirements.

The fires burn the ground cover very slowly, said Lebedyk, but crews will be finished on Tuesday.

Neighbours have been advised to expect smoke.

A small section of the controlled fire at the Spring Garden Natural Area in Windsor. (Kaitie Fraser/CBC)