On January 29, our Prescribed Fire Crew conducted its first prescribed fire of the season. The 232 acres are located on the Panther Island portion of the property and consist of restored pine flatwoods, wet prairie, and marsh habitat. Approximately 70% of the acreage successfully burned, leaving pockets of unburned areas for wildlife to use.
Fire is one of the most important processes affecting the character and distribution of natural systems at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and throughout the region. Virtually all plants and animals here evolved with fire and are dependent upon it. Without fire, marshes, wet prairies, and flatwoods with primarily herbaceous vegetation become dominated by woody vegetation, and the composition of plant and animal communities is drastically changed. Because we know this, maintaining a natural fire regime is an important responsibility we strive to fulfill.
Since the January fire, staff members have reported seeing bobcat tracks and a lot of green, new growth returning. Senior Resource Manager and Burn Boss Allyson Webb has already observed snakes, rabbits, deer, and birds, including a Sandhill Crane family, in the area.
On February 23, the team conducted another successful burn of 70 acres at Panther Island.