2017 Fire Activity

Big Cypress Reopens Trails after Recent Wildfires

Big Cypress National Preserve has lifted several temporary trail closures while other areas continue to remain closed to promote visitor safety during current wildfire activities. During preserve area closures, all recreational use, including hiking, hunting, and camping will be prohibited in the designated area.

The following closures will remain in effect:
· From Nobles Grade Trail east to Addition Lands Trail, ADD 17 due to fire activity

The following areas are now open:
· Monument Trail Bypass and Monument Trail from Monroe North junction to Concho Billie Trail
· Burns Lake Road, Burns Lake Day Use Area, and Burns Lake Trail North from Windmill Tram to Concho Billie Trail, Burns Lake South from campground to Windmill Tram
· Lands to the north of US 41 from Burns Lake Campground to Monument Lake Campground
· Lands east of the Turner River Road, south of Concho Billie Trail, and west of Monument Lake Trail
· Skillet Strand Trail and parking areas
· Windmill Tram Trail
· Road leading to Sanctuary
· Bear Island Campground

The following campgrounds will remain closed as is typical during the summer season will reopen August 15, 2017:
· Burns Lake, Gator Head, Pink Jeep, and Monument Lake Campgrounds

If new closures are required due to additional fire activity, an additional press release will be issued. The wildfire activity is managed by regional and area incident management teams and the Southwest Florida and Caribbean Fire and Aviation Management Program (SWFLCAR), a cooperative program between Big Cypress National Preserve and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 4, District 6.

 
map of cowbell fire closure location

Closure Order for April 10, 2017

The following areas are closed to all recreation use, including off-road vehicles (ORVs), hinking, camping and commercial activities due to safety concerns related to wildfires in the area. Closure from the Parliament Fire also still remain in place.

• Pink Jeep Campground

• Bear Island Campground

• Gator Head Campground

• The road leading into the Sanctuary except to residents

• All trails between state road 29 and L-28 Canal including the Florida Trail

• All public lands west of the L-28 Canal

• All public lands east of state road 29

• All public lands south of the Preserve boundary

• All public lands north of Alligator Alley

 
map of Cowbell Fire Closure
Map of area closed due to fire activity.  Closure are is in represented by pink color.

Closure Order 4/5/2017

Due to wildland fire activity a temporary closure order is required to maintain public safety and minimize public interference with firefighting operations and personnel. These areas are closed to all recreation use, including Off-Road Vehicles (ORV), hiking, camping, and commercial activities.

Closures:

  • The road leading into the Sanctuary except to residences
  • Nobles Grade Trail north to include the Florida Trail north
  • All trails east of Nobles Grade to include the Blue Trail, Red Trail, and Yellow Trail
  • All lands west of the L28 Canal from Sanctuary Road north
  • All lands east of Nobles Grade
  • All land south of the preserve boundary and east of Nobles Grade

Private lands in the designated area shall remain open; residents should use caution.

 

Updates for Cowbell Fire and Additional Fires in the Preserve

The Cowbell Fire had grown to 400 acres as of Saturday night. It was discovered on March 30, 2017 two miles north of I-75 and west of the L-28 Canal Road. Due to the remote location with limited access, and multiple fires occurring in the preserve, a Type 2 incident command organization has arrived to support operations today. The Southern Area Type 2 Gold Incident Management Team will begin managing fire operations in the preserve starting Monday.

Current and future updates on fire activity within Big Cypress will be posted to https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5147/
 

Status of wildfires in Big Cypress National Preserve on March 31, 2017 -

  • The new 300 acre Cowbell Fire is 0% contained.
  • The 26,371 acre Parliament Fire is 75% contained.
  • The 25 acre Little Cypress Fire, located north of Interstate 75, is 60% contained.
  • The eight acre Hotline Fire, located in a remote and isolated area of the preserve, is 90% contained.

These wildfires mark an early start to wildfire season in the Big Cypress area. With the likelihood of fire growth diminished, fire crews are strengthening containment lines and suppressing lingering hot spots. Fire crews on the ground have been working with single engine air tankers to drop water and aid in suppression efforts on all three fires. To date no injuries have been reported despite the fact that over a hundred personnel were involved in the fire suppression effort. Fire operational impacts have been minimal.

Closures -
  • Monument Trail is closed from Monroe North junction, to the Concho Billie Trail
  • Monument Trail Bypass Trail is closed
  • Monument Lake Campground
  • Burns Lake Campground, day use area, and Burns Lake Road
  • Burns Lake Trail South from the campground to Windmill Tram
  • Burns Lake Trail North from Windmill Tram to Concho Billie Trail
  • Lands to the east of Turner River Rd, south of Concho Billie Trail, west of Monument Lake Trail
  • Lands to the north of US 41 from Burns Lake Campground to Monument Lake Campground
  • Skillet Strand Trail and parking areas
  • Windmill Tram Trail
Adjacent Open Areas -

  • Concho Billie Trail remains open. Closures may be implemented due to fire activity. Use caution due to fire vehicles and personnel
  • Private lands in the designated area remain open; residents should use caution and notify the Fire Duty Officer of entry by calling (239)719-0241
Agencies assisting with fire suppression efforts include; the Southwest Florida and Caribbean Fire and Aviation Management Program, the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes, Florida Division of Forestry, Greater Naples Fire Department, the US Forest Service, Collier County Sheriff Department and Florida Highway Patrol.

On average, Florida experiences the second highest number of wildfires in the nation. Communities and individuals alike can help reduce the incidence and magnitude of wildfires. Fire-wise information can be found at http://www.freshfromflorida.com
 
Map depicting size and location of Cowbell and Little Cypress Fires.
The Cowbell Fire increased to 300 acres as of March 31, 2017.

NPS Map

Cowbell Fire Starts in Big Cypress

Ochopee, Fla. – Active wildfire season has begun in Big Cypress National Preserve with a new start discovered on March 30, 2017 two miles north of I-75 and west of the L-28 Canal Road. The fire, named the Cowbell Fire, is estimated at 300 acres with expected growth tomorrow and through the weekend.

Today, aviation and ground resources assessed area trails for potential containment. Resources are working to identify structures in the area and values at risk. Additional resources have been requested and will be arriving to support operations over the next few days.

The fire is currently burning in pineland and cypress habitat. The source of the fire is not yet known and the fire is not a result of prescribed fire activity. The fire, though located near the Little Cypress Fire, is a new start. The fire is located in a section of the preserve that includes proposed wilderness and the Addition Lands.

“Interagency teams have directed fire resources to set up containment lines, protect private property, and appropriately manage the fire,” said Big Cypress Superintendent Tamara Whittington. “Our primary goal is to reduce the spread to critical resource areas and private structures in the area.” Additional resources have been requested to help establish contingency lines and protect values at risk.

 

Caution Advised on Florida Trail Due to Hotline Fire

A seven acre wildfire burning in the preserve is urging caution for hikers on the Florida Trail. On the afternoon of Friday 24th, 2017 the Hotline Wildfire was discovered. It is the result of a lightning strike. The fire is burning one mile west of the Florida Trail near Oak Hill Campground within Big Cypress National Preserve. The Florida Trail remains open but hikers are cautioned to enter at your own risk. Changing weather conditions may cause increases in fire activity and result in closure of the trail at any time.

For questions contact the Fire Duty Officer: 239-719-0241

 
Parliament Fire Update
Parliament Wildfire in Big Cypress 40% Contained

Ochopee – Good progress was made today on the Parliament Fire, currently burning in Big Cypress National Preserve. The fire is estimated at 25,365 acres and is now 40% contained. Fire fighters continued to add to and strengthen containment lines, and all lines held today. Fire personnel used drip torches and a helicopter to “burn out” along Monument Trail and those operations added to the total acreage. However, by burning out along the trail and removing that fuel, the likelihood of future uncontrolled growth has been diminished.

“We have had great cooperation from local and regional partners” says Jay Thatcher, one of the incident commanders, “and we could not have made the progress we’ve made without their help.” 110 people are working on the blaze, which started on March 18. Cooperating agencies include The Southwest Florida and Caribbean Fire and Aviation Management Program (SWFLCAR), the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes, Florida Division of Forestry, Greater Naples Fire Department, the US Forest Service, Collier County Sheriff Department and Florida Highway Patrol. Due to the remote location and limited access, a Type 3 incident command organization has been mobilized to manage the fire. To date, no structures have been lost and there have been no fire fighter injuries.

Fire managers say the blaze has mostly been low-intensity and has left a mosaic pattern of unburned and burned areas. This type of fire activity will have long-term benefits for the landscape and wildlife by renewing habitat and promoting ecological diversity.

Visitors and travelers should still expect to smell and see smoke along US Highway 41 and State Highway 29. In addition there is extra fire traffic in the area so please use caution if traveling through Big Cypress National Preserve.

A second small fire was located in the preserve this afternoon. Named the “Hotline Fire,” it is less than ten acres and is in a remote area. A helicopter made water drops on the fire today and it will be monitored over the weekend.


 
Map depicting Parliament Fire.
Parliament wildfire is displayed in pink.  Area closure is within the red box.  Fire is at 24,338 acres as of late on 3/23/2017

NPS

Parliament Wildfire in Big Cypress Moves Toward Containment

Ochopee – Northeast winds pushed the Parliament Fire into new areas overnight on March 22. Today, firefighters conducted active suppression and burnout operations to reduce the spread of fire and threat to US Highway 41. Florida Highway Patrol closed US Highway 41 for several hours to protect motorists from extensive smoke and near white out conditions.

“Today’s efforts successfully burned fuels that would have threatened infrastructure and further impacted safe travel if left unchecked,” said Superintendent Tamara Whittington. The fire is now at 35% containment with no reported injuries or lost structures. Current data indicates that the fire is 24,338 acres.

Additional smoke and early morning fog could combine to produce low visibility. Florida Highway Patrol determines the length and duration of closures to ensure safe conditions for motorists.

The fire is not a result of planned prescribed fire activities. The source and origins of the fire are still under active investigation. Visitors and communities can help prevent wildfire by fully extinguishing cigarettes, reporting smoke and fire immediately, and fully extinguishing any camp fire or outdoor cooking activities.
 

Closures Due To Parliment Fire as of 3/23/2017


The following are closed until further notice due to wildfire activity:
  • Monument Lake Campground
  • Burns Lake Campground, day use area, and Burns Lake Road
  • Lakes to the east of Turner River Road, south of Concho Billie Trail, west of Monument Lake Trail, extending to north of Tamiami Trial, US Highway 41
  • Skillet Strand Trail and parking area
  • Windmill Tram Trail
  • Burns Lake Trail north ot Concho Billie Trail, and Burns Lake Trail South to Tamiami Trail, US Highway 41
Tamiami Trail, US Highway 41 will be closed by Florida Highway Patrol as needed for safety.

The following adjacent areas will remain open:
Private lands in the designated area will remain open. Residents should use caution and notify the Fire Duty Officer of entry by calling 239-719-0241.
 
map of the parliament fire 3.23
Parliament wildfire is displayed in pink.  Area closure is within the red box.  Fire is at 15,389 acres as of 7 pm on 3/22/2017

Parliament Wildfire Grows in Big Cypress


The Parliament Fire was estimated to be 15,389 acres as of March 22.
The fire continues to burn in a mixture of grass, pine, and cypress habitat and is actively managed through a multiagency Type 3 incident command organization. The incident command has dispatched aviation, ground resources, and crews to secure private structures, protect high value resources, and implement various containment strategies. The fire is currently 20% contained. Containment efforts will continue using established trails, natural barriers, and previously prescribed fire areas.

Yesterday, fire crews successfully secured all of the camps located near Burns Lake Campground. Additional camps will be secured today. Crews are working to establish containment lines along established trails.

Today, fire crews will be conducting an active fire operation to reduce fuels and contain the fire. The burnout operation will be conducted along US Highway 41 from Skillet Strand Trail at mile marker 64 to Monument Lake Campground at mile marker 60. Operations are expected to begin at 10:00 a.m., weather permitting. Fire operations are weather and condition dependent. Operations will be conducted when all safety precautions have been met. Florida Highway Patrol is likely to issue a closure of US Highway 41 due to smoke. Closure will be lifted when conditions permit.

The fire is not a result of planned fire activities. The source and origins of the fire are still under active investigation. Visitors and communities can help prevent wildfire by fully extinguishing cigarettes, reporting smoke and fire immediately, and fully extinguishing any camp fire or outdoor cooking activities.
 
Map of Parliament Fire showing long shape of fire to south and east from Burns Lake Road.
Map depicting 3,300 acre Parliament Fire as of Sunday, March 19.

NPS

Parliament Fire Burning in Big Cypress National Preserve

Ochopee – Big Cypress National Preserve was notified during early evening hours on March 18 of smoke from a 60-acre wildfire that was reported north of Burns Lake Campground on the north side of Highway 41 in Big Cypress National Preserve.

The Parliament Fire is estimated to be 3,300 acres as of Sunday evening and is burning in a mixture of grass, pine, and cypress habitat. The Southwest Florida and Caribbean Fire and Aviation Management Program (SWFLCAR), a cooperative program between Big Cypress National Preserve and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 4, District 6, has dispatched aviation and ground resources to the fire line. Due to the remote location and limited access, a Type 3 incident command organization has been mobilized to manage the fire.

“Firefighters are using both natural and human made barriers to contain the fire’s spread,” said Big Cypress Superintendent Tamara Whittington. Big Cypress National Preserve has one of the most active fire management programs in the National Park Service. “Fire is an essential component of the Big Cypress ecosystem. In the long term, the fire will benefit the ecosystem by renewing habitat and promoting ecological diversity.” Additional resources from county, state, and federal agencies have been requested to help establish containment lines and protect values at risk.

Visitors and commuters should expect smoke along US Highway 41, Burns Lake Road, and Monument Lake Campground due to early morning fog and smoke from the Parliament Fire. Visitors and recreational trail users should expect closures of Skillet Strand Trail and parking areas on Monday due to smoke and wildlife danger.

The Greenup Fire, which began on March 16, is currently 162 total acres and 60% contained. Mop up operations will continue until all hot spots are located. The fire is located on the boundary between Big Cypress Seminole Reservation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the preserve’s northeastern unit.

 
Map of fire in Big Cypress. Yellow circle around fire location.
March 17, 2017 map of Greenup Fire.

NPS

Greenup Fire Burning in Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve was notified on March 16 that a small wildfire had burned from Big Cypress Seminole Reservation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida across preserve boundaries into the preserve’s northeastern unit.

The fire is estimated to be 150 acres and is burning in a mixture of grass, hardwood, and cypress habitat. The Southwest Florida and Caribbean Fire and Aviation Management Program (SWFLCAR), a cooperative program between Big Cypress National Preserve and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 4, District 6, has dispatched aviation and ground resources to the fire line. Professional fire teams from the Seminole Tribe of Florida have contributed staff and equipment as well in a cooperative effort to build containment lines and protect important structures in the area. The fire is being managed under a unified command structure with both Seminole and SWFLCAR incident commanders organizing and coordinating the effort.


 
map of big cypress with location of anticipated prescribed burns for March
Planned areas for prescribed burns in March.

March Prescribed Burn Locations

Southwest Florida & Caribbean Fire and Aviation is planning on conducting prescribed burning within selected areas of Big Cypress National Preserve. The map to the right shows areas that are being considered for prescribed burning in March. The implentation of these activities are subject to change depending on weather conditions. For questions or concerns contact SWFLCAR Duty Officer: (239) 719-0241.

 
map of prescribed burn area

TRU 2 Prescribed Burn 2/24


The burn is located near the mile marker 71 rest area on I-75.

The main objective of the Rx burn in to reduce hazardous fuels around 2 private properties.

Implementation of this unit will be weather-dependent.
 
fire map

Deep South Prescribed Burn and Fire Prairie Trail Closed 2/16-2/17

The area encompassed in the Deep South prescribed burn and Fire Prairie Trail will be temporarily closed for public use starting Thursday, February 16, at 12:01 am. The area is anticipated to reopen on Friday, February 17, at 4 pm.

These areas are closed to all recreational use including but not limited to hunting, hiking, and camping due to safety concerns related to prescribed fire in the area.

The unit is located north of Upper Wagon-wheel Road, west of Turner River Road, and east of Deep Lake Strand.

Turner River Road and Upper Wagon-wheel Road will remain open.

Implementation of this prairie unit will be weather-dependent.
 
Prescribed Fire map

Closure of Florida National Scenic Trail and Little Deer Unit Prescribed Burn Area 2/7-2/10

The area encompassed in the Little Deer Unit prescribed burn will be temporarily closed for public use starting Tuesday, February 7, at 12:01 am. The area is anticipated to reopen on Friday, February 10, at 4 pm. This includes a three mile section of the Florida National Scenic Trail. This closure of the Florida National Scenic Trail will be between 13 Mile Camp and one mile south of Oak Hill Camp. The closure also includes the portion of the Raccoon Trail located within the burn area. Please see map for detailed locations.

These areas are closed to all recreation use, including hunting, hiking and camping due to safety concerns related to the prescribed fire in the area.

Implementation of this burn and closure is subject to change due to the weather.
For questions, please contact the fire duty officer at (239)719-0241.
 
Deep South Fire map
Deep South prescribed fire anticipated burn area.

Deep South Prescribed Burn and Area Closure 2/1 - 2/2


The area encompassed in the Deep South prescribed burn and Fire Prairie Trail will be temporarily closed for public use starting Wednesday, February 1, at 12:01 am. The area is anticipated to reopen on Thursday, February 2, at 4 pm.

These areas are closed to all recreational use including but not limited to hunting, hiking, and camping due to safety concerns related to prescribed fire in the area.
The unit is located north of Upper Wagon-wheel Road, west of Turner River Road, and is bounded by Deep Lake Strand.
Turner River Road and Upper Wagon-wheel Road will remain open.
Implementation of this prairie unit will be weather-dependent.

For questions, please contact the fire duty officer at (239)719-0241.
 
photo of area east of SR 29 with prescribed burn 1/25 through 1/27
Area anticipated burned by the Airplane Prairie prescribed fire
Airplane Prairie Prescribed Fire
This is a multiple day burn that will cover approximately 30,000 acres. Ignitions are scheduled to occur Wednesday 1/25/2017 through Saturday 1/27/2017.
Wednesday- fire personnel will secure the interior camps and blackline alone Concho Billie trail.
Thursday- fire personnel will secure interior Red Cockaded Woodpecker trees
Friday- aerial ignitions are scheduled across the unit.
Implementation of this burn unit will be weather dependent.

The unit is located east of Turner River road and north of Concho Billie trail. Fire Prairie Nature Trail is adjacent to the unit and will remain open. Concho Billie trail will also remain open.

Last updated: May 19, 2017

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Mailing Address:

33100 Tamiami Trail East
Ochopee, FL 34141

Phone:

(239) 695-2000

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