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Controlled burn planned for next week at Pine Island Preserve

By Staff | Mar 2, 2012

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is planning a controlled burn at Pine Island Preserve next week.

“The Florida Forest Service frequently prescribes controlled burns like this one to reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires,” said Christine Johnson, Conservation Foundation president. “Fire is actually necessary to clear underbrush and create new growth to maintain a safe and healthy ecosystem.”

Although the exact date of the prescribed burn had not been set as of Friday afternoon, it could be done as early as Monday. Johnson said the burn schedule depends on the weather – mainly the wind and rain.

She said they do not want to do a controlled burn at the preserve if the land is wet.

Lee Amos, conservancy staff biologist, is working closely with Forestry Service representatives to seek the best conditions for the controlled burn.

“We want people to know about the burning in advance, so they will understand what is happening when they see smoke,” Johnson said.

This will be the first controlled burn at Pine Island Preserve, which is located at 7630 Stringfellow Road. Johnson said they have removed invasive plants by herbicide and mechanical measures.

“In order to bring back the native plants, the burn is necessary,” she said.

In addition, the controlled burn will also reduce the amount of fuel at the preserve in case an accidental fire occurs.

Forty-nine acres will be included in the controlled burn.

The Pine Island Preserve, purchased by the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast in 2009, consists of 230 acres. In addition, the organization worked with Lee County 20/20 and the Calusa Land Trust to protect the adjacent 190 acres of the Pine Island Preserve.

According to the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, the preserve will become a public park once the planning and permitting phase is completed, along with enough funds being raised to complete the infrastructure.

For more information, call 941-918-2100.

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is a nonprofit land trust organization that is nationally accredited.