Prescribed burns planned at Asylum Lake Preserve

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Asylum Lake Preserve

KALAMAZOO--Significant snowfall this year means that prescribed burns in Western Michigan University's Asylum Lake Preserve are planned for this month to improve the ecology and aesthetics of the natural area.

If weather permits, prescribed burns could take place anytime between today and the end of the month by Wildtype Ltd., a professional ecological restoration company based in Mason, Mich. Lack of snow last year prevented burns planned in March that would have reduced the growing number of brush piles lining the north and south edges of Asylum Lake, the biggest of the preserve's two lakes.

The brush has been piling up since spring 2011, when WMU hired Wildtype to start removing invasive vegetation in a 15-acre section of the preserve that was wreaking havoc on the preserve's ecosystem. Removing this invasive vegetation has improved the ecology of the area as well as opened up beautiful views of the lake that were previously screened by dense undergrowth.

Letting the cut brush decay naturally, as would normally be the case, is not an option because the abundance of brush piles and their large size may have unintended consequences on the surrounding habitat. Burning is an effective and natural alternative.

An experienced crew from Wildtype will administer the burns on weekdays and only when there is enough snow cover to minimize all safety risks.

The 274-acre Asylum Lake Preserve is owned by WMU and managed by the University in conjunction with the communitywide Asylum Lake Policy and Management Council. The council has been working with Wildtype to ensure that during the company's ongoing restoration work, goals outlined in the Asylum Lake Preserve Management Plan are followed.

For more information, contact Tim Holysz, WMU director of landscape services, at tim.holysz@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8582 office. Visit wmich.edu/asylumlake for more information about the Asylum Lake Preserve.