Thursday, March 25, 2010

First Wekiwa Burn

Today, I headed into work thinking that another day in the office was ahead of me... I was wrong.  I got to participate in a prescribed burn today.  I may have mentioned before that burning is a major focus in this park.  It is also something that I really enjoy.  Today's fire wore me out though.  We burned about 60 acres but there were a lot of special considerations with this fire.  We burned around several buildings, a water treatment facility, a road, and a residence.  We had to be very careful.  We separated into two groups at the beginning and each group focused on one area.  The two areas linked together in one small section.  The fire was very successful.  We achieved our goals and we handled the challenges that came to us well.  It was a little hard at first to get used to the way things are done on the fire line here.  Overall, prescribed fire has similar processes and methodology.  Everyone does things just a little differently though.  I have burned in three different state parks now and have had several different burn bosses.  Each place and each burn boss has slightly different priorities and methods to achieve the same goals.  I felt like I was dragging a little because I just wasn't used to the way that things happen here.  I also had to get to know the equipment.  It was a nice introduction though and when I went home at 8pm, I felt like I had put in a hard day's work.  We really had to work hard to secure the sensitive areas and the mop-up afterward to put out anything that might re-ignite overnight was exhausting.  We can rest easy tonight though, it is now pouring rain as I type.
So here are some of the magnificent views that I saw when I was on the fire line today.  Most are of the fire or smoke, but there is also a Cuban Anole (a non-native version of this very common lizard) and a lovely flower that I found under a piece of equipment that I was using today.

Thought of the Day #91
One plant species that I am seeing much more of at Wekiwa is Wiregrass.  It is the plant that is burning in the photo above with a fire truck in it.  I see so much of it at Wekiwa because it is one of our fire dependent species.  It relies on fire to stimulate its flowers which produce its seeds.  Without fire, there would not be nearly as much Wiregrass in the park.  The Wiregrass is not only beautiful, but it is food for many different creatures and it provides shelter to many more.


Anne said...

What happens to smaller animals within a burn area, like the anoles? Do they have underground hiding areas that keep them safe, or do they move to keep ahead of the burning area?

Ranger Amy said...

Animals have several ways to escape the fire. Lizards and many insects can climb trees and find shelter that way. In some areas there are Gopher Tortoise burrows. The burrows can be around 15 feet long and 5-10 feet deep underground. There is a lot of room and its nice and cool underground. Hundreds of species of animals know to seek shelter in these burrows. Most animals simply walk (or run) out of the burn zone. We almost never light all the way around a zone at once and let it burn to the center. We start on one side and slowly work our way around. The animals know to move away from the fire long before it gets to them so they can easily just walk away.

Paula said...

I never would have guessed that any plant species is dependent upon fire to flourish. What an interesting thing that is! I learn so much from you that I would not have thought about. Thanks Teach!