The window is closing on the "controlled burn" season for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In northern Illinois, crews are being forced to race against the clock.
It's always a sure sign that the spring season is taking shape; the smell of burning leaves while driving through a rural area. It's happening again this year. The Illinois DNR is conducting prescribed burns along selected portions of prairies and woodlands.
The purpose is to stimulate growth of native vegetation and control invasive plant species. During the spring, it's usually done between mid-March and mid-April.
While crews have wrapped up work in other parts of the state, they're still conducting burns in northern Illinois. DNR spokesman Chris Young says they got off to a slow start up here.
"Winter stuck around longer than most of us would have liked, and there was still snow on the ground. It was so wet and cold. But the crews are doing the best they can to wrap up the burns they need to get in," Young said.
Young says there is good news - there's not a set number of acres they have to burn. In a typical year, the department tries to cover between 10-thousand and 20-thousand acres.