Park Employee for a Day Geocache #4
The park fire managment branch first discovered a lightning fire in this area on July 13, 2012. Following the initial survey, the fire was determined to have burned just over 200 acres of light fuels in close proximity to an important subpopulation of Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows.
The park Fire Management Officer-in consultation with park biologists and park management-decided to initiate suppression operations. Over the next two weeks, fire personnel from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Florida Forest Service worked to contain the fire as it continued to grow. Operations included the use of three engines, two helicopters, and one single-engine air tanker. By the time the fire was fully contained, a total of 2,084 acres had burned. Operations concluded with no reported injuries, at a total cost of just over $78,000.
The luxury of hindsight tells us the suppression effort was a good decision. Ultimately, a total of only 170 acres of sparrow habitat were impacted-a small fraction of the area supporting the subpopulation in question. Fire behavior modeling, however, reveals that the fire would have grown significantly larger in the absence of control.