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Contact: Ardrianna Mclane, 239-695-1107
If conditions are met and remain favorable Big Cypress National Preserve is planning to conduct the “Loop Road Prairie” prescribed fire operation within the Loop Unit of the preserve between mid-January and late February, 2015. The Loop Unit is located south of US-41 and northeast of the Loop Road. This operation will take place in the eastern portion of the unit. (Map of vicinity below.)
The primary goals of the operation are to assist the preserve with exotic species management, including treating Melaleuca quinquenervia with fire following herbicide treatments; improving habitat for deer populations; and, maintaining distinct populations of Liguus tree snails in the area.
Although the treatment will focus on prairies and pinelands on the interior of the unit, the prescribed fire will also reduce hazardous vegetation accumulations along the edge of the operation. Reducing the vegetation accumulation will protect homes and infrastructure in the event an extreme wildfire situation was to occur in the future.
Burning during the winter months allows fire managers to utilize northerly winds that will reduce smoke impacts to US-41; take advantage of high evening and night relative humidity conditions that will assist in controlling fire behavior; and, utilize natural barriers along the operation edges to ensure the fire will not spread outside of the prescribed area. All of these factors will keep the fire away from roads, homes and other sensitive sites in the vicinity.
For visitor safety, people who are not part of the prescribed fire operation should avoid areas of active fire. Smoke may be visible within the Preserve, especially from US-41 and the Loop Road. In case of smoke on the roadways drive carefully, reduce your speed, and turn on your headlights while driving.
All areas of Big Cypress National Preserve will remain open to visitors during the prescribed fire. However, visitors are encouraged to check the Big Cypress website for updates to ensure areas they wish to visit are not being impacted by the burn. Fire activity will be close to the southern end of the Roberts Lakes Trail (formerly the southern end of the Florida National Scenic Trail) south of the Oasis Visitor Center, and the eastern end of the Gator Hook Trail on the west side of the unit. Before attempting to hike these trails during the burn operation visitors should check with National Park Service staff at the visitor center.
To conduct this operation Big Cypress National Preserve Prescribed Fire Staff have been in close communication with the Florida Forest Service, Florida Highway Patrol, Collier and Miami-Dade County Sheriff’s Offices, and the offices of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.
Big Cypress National Preserve has one of the largest prescribed fire programs in the National Park System. For more information on the fire program at the preserve go to: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm
Often prescribed fire activity takes place in remote areas of the preserve and press releases are not distributed for those operations. However, all information related to prescribed fire operations is posted at: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/naturescience/fire-activity-and-related-closures.htm and on the national preserve’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
For more information, go to - https://www.nps.gov/bicy/photosmultimedia/social-media-at-big-cypress.htm