Pottawatomie Marsh Scheduled For Another "Prescribed Burn" This Spring
The local fire department wants the public to be aware that the privately-owned wildlife refuge and waterfowl hunting marsh, called the Pottawatomie Marsh and located on the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck Township, is being planned for another “prescribed burn” this spring.
The burning is meant to kill the invasive plants- especially the Phragmites, the common reed- and thereby, protect the native flora and fauna, Doug Wright, conservation stewardship director for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway, told the Saugatuck Township Board at last week’s meeting.
The Outdoor Discovery Center does a lot of prescribed burning, an activity regulated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), throughout the state of Michigan, including some along the Kalamazoo River.
Its proposed burning for the marsh, owned by the Pottawatomie Gun Club, has been postponed now for two years.
Its previous burn in the spring of 2012 produced a lot of smoke and left ash residue on the roof of some area residents’ homes. Allegan County Central Dispatch was inundated with calls and crashed the communication system, fire department officials have noted.
Wright’s presentation last Tuesday came at the request of the Saugatuck Township Fire District, whose ultimate goal relative to the proposed burning was articulated by Saugatuck Township Fire District Greg Janik:
”We are going to make sure everybody is on board. We want to minimize the impact and inconvenience for the residents.”
He added, “They have a small window to do it, and there is a lot of factors at work. Wind can just abort the whole plan.”
Wright told the township board: “It (Phragmites) has become a very significant problem and that is why the DNR (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) has been strongly backing us up.
He said the invasive plant can get up to 15-feet in height.
”Some people may not even know that they have it on their property,” he said. “It (the area to be burned) is about a 15-acre area, but not all of that area has invasive species.
”One of the most difficult issues with this burn is that it’s taken place in an area that doesn’t have a lot of public access (therefore, difficult for people to know what is going on),” noted Wright.
The Pottawatomie Gun Club’s marsh area is north of where I-196 bridge crosses the Kalamazoo River.
The 120-year-old private waterfowl hunting club has some two miles of riverfront on its property.
The burn is expected to take place sometime this spring, said Janik, adding that the public will be notified of when it will take place.