Wildland Fire

wildland fire fighters
Wildland Fire Fighters who supported the February 2019 prescribed fire operation at the Stafford Field and Stafford Plantation burn units.

NPS Photo

Cumberland Island National Seashore conducted a safe and successful prescribed fire operation yesterday thanks to the support of interagency partners from: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex, Osceola National Forest, Georgia Forestry Commission, NPS Mississippi River Zone Fire Management, and Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve.

Interagency cooperation supports successful fire management programs through the sharing of equipment and skilled personnel.
wildland fire fighter lighting the edge of a grass field with a drip torch
Wildland fire fighter igniting edge of grass field with a drip torch.

NPS Photo

02/19/2019 - Prescribed Fire operations completed

Conditions allowed for carrying out the planned prescribed fire in the Stafford area on Wednesday, February 13.

Updates with pictures and video were posted to the park's Facebook page throughout the day of the operation. Primary ignition on the 114 acre Stafford Field unit began in the morning. The 59 acre Stafford Plantation unit was ignited in the early afternoon. The primary burn operations were completed by 5:00 P.M. and crew stayed on to monitor the burned areas and watch for "hot spots" over the next two days.

The successful completion of this prescribed burn is an important step in the continuing treatment of the island's fire adapted environments. The reintroduction of fire is helping to reduce hazardous fuels in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), reduce encroachment of woody species into cultural landscapes, and promote stimulation of grass and forbs.

These operations are planned to cause minimal disruptions to park operations and the visiting public. Park staff will make every effort to communicate future implementations both at the park and through the park’s webpage, Facebook, and Twitter sites.

Public safety is paramount. Cumberland Island National Seashore staff and its partners work together to ensure a safe and successful burn operations.

Check back for pictures and video, and monitor the park’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cumberlandislandnps for additional information.

A wildfire on Cumberland Island burns in a stand of longleaf pine forest.
A wildfire burns through a stand of longleaf pines on Cumberland Island.

National Park Service

Why Fire Management

The National Park Service manages wildland fire to protect the public, communities and infrastructure, conserve natural and cultural resources, and restore and maintain ecological health.

Cumberland Island exhibits abundant vegetation and wildlife habitat, although much of the island's vegetation was altered by human activities before the National Seashore was established in 1972. In addition, vegetation and habitat have been altered through the general practice of suppressing all wildland fires, which has continued during NPS management on the island.

Longleaf pines are just one important ecosystem found on Cumberland Island. Longleaf pines and associated organisms evolved to not only withstand fire, but to be dependent on it for their survival. In order for longleaf pine seeds to germinate and grow, they must fall on open bare mineral soil, typically cleared by fire. In the absence of fire, pine needles and other forest debris will build up as ground litter and keep longleaf seeds from sprouting. Also, shade from a thick understory can kill longleaf seedlings. If this happens, as the mature longleaf pines die -- at an age of several hundred years -- they are replaced by broadleaved trees, such as oaks or hickories, and the whole ecosystem changes. This is the well-known ecological principle of succession.

Many plants and animals depend on the longleaf pine for their survival, thus making the longleaf pine habitat one of the most diverse habitats found in North America. For example, the gopher tortoises are important, for as many as 300 other animals use their 15-20 foot deep burrows. These include snakes, frogs, foxes, spiders, and beetles.


Fire Management Plan

This plan serves as a detailed and comprehensive program of action to implement fire management policy principles and goals, consistent with the Cumberland Island's resource management objectives. This plan outlines the fire management program at Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Read the Fire Management Plan

Last updated: February 19, 2019

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101 Wheeler St
St. Marys, GA 31558


(912) 882-4336

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