Detroit officials are advising residents to avoid three neighborhood parks this week, when the city has scheduled controlled burns as part of a pilot program.

The General Services Department said the burns will start simultaneously in Palmer Park, Riverside Park on the southwest riverfront and Rouge Park at 10 a.m. Thursday and are expected to last until about 1 or 2 p.m.

City officials ask residents to steer clear of the parks during that time.

The burns are being done to “improve the ecosystem” and help mitigate pollution, according to the city. If the pilot is a success, they could become a more common tool for park maintenance. 

“Prescribed burning could become a very important maintenance tool for Detroit parks,” said Jeff Klein, deputy chief of landscape architecture for the General Services Department.

Prescribed burns also are being considered as a management tool in natural areas and bird meadows.

Klein said controlled burns have been shown to be effective in reducing weeds and promoting a healthier ecology and habitat.

“Prescribed burning will replace mowing in these park spaces and should ultimately result in reduced overall emissions from the equipment used to mow the grass regularly,” he said. 

The method is “directly adapted from the cultural practice Native Americans performed seasonally as a part of their land management strategy,” he said.

The burn is being done in partnership with Huron Clinton Metro Parks.

Permits for the burns were issued by the Detroit Fire Department and the activity will be carried out by trained professionals, the city said.

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The Detroit News