Parks Canada planning to set parts of Point Pelee on fire, on purpose

Parks Canada is planning to use fire for restoration at Point Pelee National Park. Prescribed burns will close sections of the park between March 19 and April 15.

Fires will be used to help restore rare savannah ecosystem

Prescribed burns will close sections of Point Pelee between March 19 and April 15. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

If you see a fire over the next month at Point Pelee National Park, don't be alarmed — it's deliberate.

Parks Canada is scheduling prescribed burns, which will close sections of the park between March 19 and April 15.

The fires will be focused on the following areas:

  • 1.43 hectares near the Visitor Centre
  • 3 hectares at the Cactus Field
  • 0.58 hectares near the Marsh Boardwalk 
  • 1.97 hectares at Sleepy Hollow

The park will remain open during the burns. 

Staff say safety is a "top priority" and fires will only be lit when environmental and weather conditions allow.

Smoke will be visible, but crews will be monitoring the wind conditions and work to keep smoke away from public areas as much as possible.

Burns part of restoration effort

"Prescribed fires contribute to the restoration of Point Pelee National Park's globally rare savannah ecosystem by reducing the number of exotic plants, preventing the spread of invading shrubs and trees, and improving habitat for Species at Risk," said communications officer Brett Levitt in a media release.

"This is an important step in restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems that support a variety of birds, butterflies, and Species at Risk which depend on open, sunny savannah habitat to survive."

Cause of massive marsh fire unknown

More than 100 hectares of the park's marshland burned back in March 2017, which was not part of park staff's restoration efforts.

A blaze burns at Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ontario in March 2017. (Alan Antoniuk/Submitted photo. (Alan Antoniuk)

Parks Canada investigated the cause of that fire but has not determined how it was sparked.

The scorched section has already started to bounce back and park staff describe fire as a normal part of the renewal process for natural areas.

Burned-out marshland at Point Pelee National Park is bouncing back better than ever with the possibility for new vegetation to be introduced, say experts. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)