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First prescribed burn of the year at Sanibel Gardens

By Staff | Jun 8, 2016
SCCF Field Technician Victor Young with Sea Turtle Coordinator/Biologist Kelly Sloan using the drip torch.
SCCF Wildlife Habitat Management Field Technician Burn Boss Toby Clark.
Staff from the Division of Forestry wetting down the fire line.

A prescribed burn was conducted on approximately 19 acres of wildlife habitat in the Sanibel Gardens Preserve (owned by SCCF and the City of Sanibel) on Friday, June 3. The burn was conducted by SCCF and the City of Sanibel.

Habitat preservation and human safety are the main reasons for performing controlled burns. The habitat on the island is adapted for fire. When periodic fire is denied, the habitat begins to change, mostly to hardwood hammock. This results in the progressive narrowing of the once open-canopy grasslands that historically covered Sanibel and were maintained by fires caused by lightning strikes. Without fire to keep the grasslands open, hardwoods will eventually take over. Many faunal species – from wading birds to invertebrates – depend on these open grassy wetlands for both habitat and prey.

When fire-adapted habitat is left unburned over many years, the fuel, or accumulating organic debris (leaves, sticks, dead grass, etc.), become an increasing risk for wildfire. These types of fires are usually started from lightning strikes, or human carelessness (discarded cigarette butts, discarded matches, etc.) and are unpredictable. The reduction of these fuels through a scheduled controlled fire regime greatly helps to prevent these scenarios.

Prescribed burns on Sanibel are made possible with help from the Sanibel Prescribed Fire Task Force – City of Sanibel, Florida Forest Service, Sanibel Fire Control District, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and SCCF.