Fire History

Fire History:

According to Upham Woods Archives, a crew of DNR employees, led by Jed Meunier, sampled three locations – two spots in the Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area (WD67, WD1), one in Rocky Arbor State Park (RA) as well as a couple samples, one which was dated, from Mirror Lake State Park (ML). The graph below is a representation of the samples where each horizontal line is a sample, usually a cross section from a stump via a tree cut around European-settlement but occasionally later (subsequent harvests). The dates at the bottom represent fires on > 2 samples. There were obviously frequent fires. 225 unique fire years from 1634 – 2018, and a Mean Fire Return Interval of 4.74 years for fires on > 2 samples. Many of these fire years were synchronous across large regions of Wisconsin (and also Michigan). The DNR has data for over 60 stands throughout Wisconsin including several sites in the Central Sands Ecological Landscape (Quincy Bluff, Fort McCoy, Levis Mound, Bruce Mound, Wildcat Ridge, Stony Bluff) and Baraboo Hills.

Blackhawk Island has had fire suppressed similar to the rest of the region since at least 1941 when the University of Wisconsin acquired the land. There was a fire that swept over Blackhawk Island in April of 1980 that, according the Lyndon Station Fire Department, was started by sparks from a Milwaukee Road freight train. The fire itself burned approximately 1,500-2,000 acres of wooded land. Several maple trees on Blackhawk Island show burn scars from this fire. According to neighbors’ accounts, the last fire before this was in 1912. No other records remain from the 1912 fire.

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