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Grassland fires could last into March

Controlled fires at the Orland Grassland site could continue through March. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Controlled fires at the Orland Grassland site could continue through March. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Controlled fires have been visible most of the month at the Orland Grassland area located at 167th Avenue, LaGrange Road, 179th Street and 104th Avenue.

Most of the fires are from the burning of recently cut trees, according to Orland Grasslands site steward Pat Hayes.

In early January, there were unauthorized burnings by volunteers, according to Orland Fire Protection District Acting Fire Chief Raymond Kay, but in late January the district gave the Army Cops of Engineers permission to contract professionals to conduct the burnings.

“The burning is a part of our selective weedy tree removal around the perimeter of the site,” said Brook Herman, the planner and restoration ecologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “The felled trees and shrubs are stacked in small piles and burned to keep the soil compaction down to a minimum during this stage of the project. The piles started to be burned in January and will continue intermittently until the selective tree clearing is completed, hopefully the end of this month or early March. They only burn when weather conditions are good and they have available piles ready to go. Right now the contractor is working in parts of the western and southern border.”

Hayes added that restoration — including the cutting down of trees — of the Grasslands area is being done with care for the grounds.

“While the equipment out there now appears quite large, it is tracked rather than wheeled so there is much less ground compaction and damage,” she said. “It is necessary that the contractor remove the felled trees now because the opened areas need to be managed and prepared for seeding.”

The Grassland is located in Orland Park and is adjacent to Tinley Park and Orland Hills.

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