2017-08-10 / Top News

Prescribed burn planned on Rookery Bay Reserve islands

Resource management staff at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve are planning a prescribed burn on spoil islands near Keewaydin Island Saturday through Tuesday, Aug. 12-15.

Prescribed fires will commence each day around 9 a.m., as weather permits. Fire or smoke will likely be visible by boaters along the channel from Gordon Pass and Marco Island and in nearshore waters, but should not impede navigation. Residents in the adjacent areas will see and possibly smell smoke.

Rookery Bay Reserve staff coordinate burns with the Florida Forest Service and work with partnering land managers and local fire departments to get the job done safely and efficiently.

The main purpose of a controlled burn is to reduce fuel loads and manage wildlife habitat. “Prescribed burns also help to increase ecosystem diversity while assisting in invasive plant control,” Jeff Carter, resource management coordinator of the reserve, said.

A major portion of Collier County is comprised of plants that are dependent on fire to maintain species composition and diversity. These species — including Florida slash pine, gallberry, saw palmetto and scrub oaks — are the same as those that are prone to lightning-strike wildfires.

Other benefits of prescribed fire as a land management tool in natural areas include stimulation of food and seed production, invasive plant control and opening areas for wildlife feeding and travel.

For more information about Rookery Bay’s prescribed fire program, visit www.rookerybay.org. ¦

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