The Washington County Parks Division will conduct prescribed prairie burns in Lake Elmo Park Reserve, Big Marine Park Reserve, Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park at the county’s South Service Center and the County’s North Service Center in Forest Lake between March 26 and May 18. The controlled burns will take approximately one to four hours to accomplish and will occur on a weekday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The controlled burns will be conducted in conjunction with the local fire departments and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The burns will only occur when weather conditions will permit a safe and effective burn. It may be rescheduled several times until the conditions are just right. Trained personnel with fire-fighting equipment will be on-site until the fire is completely extinguished. Prairies are durable and complex grassland communities that provide food and cover for wildlife, protect against soil erosion, display beautiful colors throughout the year and add character to the park landscape. Once established, prairies are relatively carefree. Fire controls the invasion of undesirable plants by stimulating plants that are adapted to fire, while simultaneously killing off woody and weedy plants that would otherwise take over the site. By initiating a controlled burn, a natural process is reintroduced to the landscape.