In the 608: Meet the man behind Madison’s prescribed burns

MADISON, Wis. – City of Madison crews have been hard at work doing prescribed burns at conservation sites across town.

The city’s parks and engineering divisions do these to promote establishment of native vegetation. It involves intentional use of fire, under specific environmental conditions, to manage and suppress invasive vegetation.

We followed along with Paul Quinlan, the conservation resource supervisor with the City of Madison Parks Division. He oversees work at the twenty-one conservation parks across Madison, about 1,700 acres in total.

“People are really interested in nature, and it’s just my life’s passion to work outside and be in nature,” Quinlan said.

Quinlan is always looking to promote establishment of native vegetation. Many of Wisconsin’s native species have adapted to survive or to benefit from fire events, while at the same time the presence of invasive or undesirable species is reduced.

Quinlan has been with the City of Madison since 2016 but has been working to better the environment for close to twenty years now.

“Some days I almost feel guilty, because when I’ve done all the office work I need to that day, I can go and check on a nature preserve or one of our conservation parks and see how things are progressing, and figure out what needs to be done to write our next management plan,” said Quinlan.

The burn season will wrap up here in the next few weeks, and then the crews will be back out next spring.

Spring is actually a bigger burn season than fall because of the better conditions then with days getting longer.

There’s also a way for you at home to learn more about what’s being done to promote better land around you. If you ever receive a postcard informing you of prescribed burns in your neighborhood, you can register online to get information. There’s an automated phone call to your cell phone letting you know what’s happening.