VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Folks driving on US 41 in southern Vigo County or near the industrial park Thursday may have noticed a large amount of smoke rising nearby.

While some may immediately wonder if there’s a business or home on fire, it turns out the cause of the smoke is actually workers from the Vigo County Parks Department.

The workers were performing a controlled burn in Ruble Park.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said this about controlled burns;

“Prescribed fire is one of the most efficient and cost-effective tools to manage wildlife habitat. Prescribed fire is the application of fire to a specific area during certain, safe weather conditions. They are used to mimic natural disturbances that improve habitat. These burns provide essential habitat for our state’s wildlife. Prescribed fire can also be used to reduce potentially hazardous fuel loads or prepare food plots for wildlife. These burns should only be carried out by individuals who have attended a formal burn workshop to manage forests, grasslands, and wetlands.”

Indiana DNR website

DNR says the benefits of prescribed fire/controlled burns are as follows;

  • Maintains grassland habitat and different forest types
  • Allows grassland habitat to persist by killing off more aggressive trees and shrubs
  • Increases plant diversity by opening up space for fire-adapted grasses and wildflowers
  • Removes obstacles that hinder wildlife mobility
  • Releases nutrients bound in dead organic material
  • Reduces the spread of plant diseases