If fire is part of the ecosystem, why doesn’t it start on its own?
In nature, lightning starts wildfires. In highly developed areas, roads, parking lots, and other humanmade structures prevent a lightning strike from sparking a blaze and spreading to new areas. When fires do start, fast-acting emergency management agencies extinguish them quickly.
Why is prescribed fire necessary?
Many of Florida’s unique habitats, such as pine uplands, depend on fire to remain healthy. The flames promote the growth of new grasses, which nourish wildlife. They encourage seed production. Fires also clear accumulated debris, such as fallen leaves and dead plant matter. This helps to limit the intensity and spread of a wildfire, should one start.
What happens to wildlife during the fire?
Birds will fly out of the area. Burrowing animals such as tortoises will stay deep in their lairs; other small mammals and reptiles may seek refuge in tortoise burrows as well. Because the area to be burned is small (1 acre), larger mammals can easily cross into adjacent land where they will find the food and shelter they need.
Will I smell smoke?
We will light the fire on a day in which the wind carries the smoke away from the Garden; even so, you may still smell it. If you have questions, concerns, or are dissatisfied with your Garden visit, please see a member of our Visitor Services team at Ticketing.
How will you extinguish the fire?
The flames will die down as plant matter burns off. We will douse any remaining embers or hot spots with water and continue to monitor the area.
How long will the fire last?
It will begin mid-morning and last about six hours.
Will other organizations assist you?
Yes. Representatives from the Florida Forest Service will supervise the burn and provide fire suppression trucks and equipment. Other organizations may assist us as well.
What safety measures will you take?
The Conservation and Natural Resources Team has spent about two years preparing for this event. Safety measures include:
- The creation of “fire breaks” or pathways clear of plants and debris. These paths prevent the spread of the fire beyond the designated area.
- Debris removal. Staff have raked and removed pine needles and other accumulated materials from bases of slash pine trees to limit the fire’s intensity.
- Tree trimming. Staff have removed low-growing branches to prevent flames from climbing into the canopy.
- Training. Our conservationists have taken all state-required coursework and gained experience by assisting with prescribed fires on other nearby conservation lands.
- Overnight monitoring to ensure flames are fully extinguished and no hot spots flare.
How much land will be burned? Where will the fire be lit?
We will burn a one-acre area on the north side of the Preserve near the ghost orchid boardwalk.
What is a prescribed fire?
A prescribed fire is deliberately lit by certified professionals to mimic a naturally occurring fire and its benefits to the ecosystem. It must follow a “prescription.” The prescription lists the purpose and objectives for the burn, the size of the area to be burned, and the conditions that need to be met before the burn can happen. These conditions include wind speed and direction, relative humidity, temperature, and the likelihood of smoke impacting developed areas.