Everglades Firefighters Assist Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge in Prescribed Fires

Vehicles drive on smoky roadway with fire vehicles parked on roadside.
Prescribed fire to reduce vegetation along roadside in order to safely suppress future hazardous fires in Big Pine, Florida. Photo courtesy of USFWS

Prescribed Fires

Underbrush burning.
Pine rocklands burning during recent prescribed fires in Key Deer NWR in Big Pine, Florida.

Photo courtesy of Chad Anderson Conservation Photography

For three hot, humid days in August 2014, Everglades National Park firefighters assisted the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in conducting three prescribed fires at Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.

Using combined fire staff allowed refuge managers to complete prescribed fires that were instrumental in maintaining rare pine rockland habitat, which depends on fire to replenish nutrients, open the forest canopy for new growth, and provide space for new pine seedlings.

Additionally, the prescribed fires created buffers of burned vegetation along travel routes in Big Pine, Florida. Burning travel routes regularly under planned conditions removes flammable dead debris and promotes regrowth of new green and less fire-prone vegetation, thus creating safer conditions for firefighters to suppress accidental fires. Prescribed fires on Big Pine Key offered fire managers a safer way to manage fire under planned conditions rather than under much drier, windy conditions often experienced during wildfires, which could threaten property and local businesses.

Interagency Projects

two wildland fire engines.
Everglades National Park and Florida Panther NWR wildland fire engines.

Everglades National Park fire management staff routinely participate in interagency projects such as the Key Deer NWR prescribed fires. Such partnerships promote an innovative approach to accomplish common fire management goals shared by various agencies in South Florida. Key Deer NWR staff completed three prescribed burns in Big Pine Key, Florida, using fire staff from Everglades National Park; St. Marks, Merritt Island, Florida Panther, and Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuges; Florida Forest Service; and Monroe County Fire and Rescue.

Learn more about Everglades fire management.

Contact: Rick Anderson, Fire Management Officer
Email:Rick_Anderson@nps.gov
Phone: (305) 242-7853