Tree-ring research illuminates early fire history of Lower Michigan

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Illustration by Spencer High

By Marie Orttenburger

Fire is top of mind for many Americans as wildfire season takes hold in the western U.S.

Fire suppression, prescribed fire and how we adapt are just some of the topics that are sparking conversation.

The Great Lakes region doesn’t boast as notorious a connection with wildfire as the West. But many of its ecosystems were shaped by fire, and they too are suffering. They face a different kind of fire-related destruction. They have shrunk to a tiny fraction of their original footprint.

This week, Great Lakes Echo is republishing a series of stories exploring the past, present and future of fire in Michigan.

The first story follows researchers studying fire scars on tree rings to determine how frequently and intensely fire historically occurred on Michigan lands—research that has something to say about how we might use fire to support our ecosystems today and in the future. Read it here.

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