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Seasonal Controlled Burns

According to the USDA Forest Service, a controlled burn (also referred to as a prescribed burn) is “any fire intentionally ignited to meet specific land management objectives such as to reduce flammable fuels, restore ecosystem health, recycle nutrients, or prepare an area for new trees or vegetation.” Likewise, the Naperville Park District uses spring and fall controlled ground-level burns as an effective tool to clear the ground of invasive weeds and reduce the amount of leaf and plant debris on the ground with the goal of returning nutrients to the soil and trigger germination of native plants that depend on fire as part of their natural lifecycle. The Park District has a maintenance plan for its parks and specifically a maintenance schedule for each park and natural area across the District. This schedule includes intervals of controlled burns along with other maintenance initiatives.

History of Controlled Burns

In Illinois’ early history, prairie fires occurred regularly with lightning strikes and the deep-rooted native prairie plants evolved to withstand fire. Today, trained crews supervise a tightly controlled process that is pre-approved through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and Naperville Fire Department.

Staff Certifications
Park District parks staff are responsible for the safe and effective management of controlled burns. Certification from the State of Illinois requires specific training and experience as established in the Illinois Prescribed Burn Act.


Naperville Park District must obtain an Open Burn Permit from the IEPA in addition to a permit from the Naperville Fire Department.

When do Controlled Burns Take Place?

Although the spring and fall seasons are optimal for conducting controlled burns, the actual timing depends on several variables including:

  • Ground temperature following snow melt; the ground needs to be sufficiently warm, but the grass must remain dormant for the burn to be successful
  • Weather conditions must be favorable with low wind velocity and wind direction specific to burn site
  • Low chance of precipitation

These parameters result in a limited number of controlled burns that are able to take place each season.

Learn more about any upcoming Naperville Park District controlled burns.

Learn more about the process of controlled burns and their importance:

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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
© 2021 Naperville Park District