Thursday, June 10, 2010


I got to participate in another prescribed burn today.  It was nice to take a break from office stresses and other concerns to just work in the field.  The burn was not as exhausting as it could have been either, so that was nice.  We burned a small area to ensure that no one acquired any overtime as Thursday is the last day of our schedule week.  We were finished well within the work day and had time to prep all of the trucks for the next use.
I was stationed on one of the Fire Engines and just followed along to watch the fire while other people did the ignition.  The conditions in the burn zone today made my job easy.  Either the fuels burned well or they didn't burn at all.  There were only a couple of wind shifts that threatened to move some embers across our burn line, but nothing gave us any trouble.  The crew on the other side had a few more obstacles than we did, but overall the burn was quick and easy.  I had plenty of time to look around while I was watching the fire.  Before we even got started, I had already found some butterflies.  There were several Variegated Fritillaries fluttering around a very large Lantana.  You have seen Gulf Fritillaries on the blog before, they are a bright orange color.  The Variegated Fritillaries are a dull brown color, but have a similar pattern.

I also found more Meadow Beauty right next to the Lantana.  A LOT more.  There was a very large patch of it on the property where our fire was today.

At the edge of the burn zone, I found the prize for burning in the hot, summer sun.  There was some Wiregrass that had gone to seed.  Wiregrass needs summer fire to stimulate seed production.  Fire has been through this zone often enough to keep the Wiregrass in good shape.  The seeds are beautiful in the sun, they look like tiny glass beads.

I found someone else enjoying the Wiregrass as well.  This tiny Bagworm was moving, home and all, very quickly along the blades of grass.  I wonder if it was headed for cooler territory.  I have blogged about Bagworms before, but this one had a few differences in its structure.

The zone that we burned today had a lot of variety.  There were some open, grassy areas, some large Sabal Palms, some large Pines, and some Oaks.  There was a mixture of fuels to keep things interesting.  Some areas didn't burn well at all and others produced huge flames and a lot of heat.

When the big flames would die down, there were always more wildflowers to observe.  I caught some quick photos of some Daisy Fleabane.

Another tiny, white flower was much more independant and unique.  I only saw two individual stalks of this plant and each one had a solitary, three-petaled flower.

After the whole zone was lit, we gave it a little more time to burn what would burn and then we began mop-up to put out any hot areas near the edge of the zone.  There was almost no mop-up to be done.  It was really nice to have just a relaxing day on the fireline.

Thought of the Day #14
Fire and flowers seem like an odd combination.  The truth is though, that there would not be as many wildflowers without frequent fire.  The Sandhill ecosystem that we were in today would turn to Oak Hammock without fire.  Without human interference, fire would come through periodically, killing the dense Oaks and opening up the tree canopy.  When there is not dense tree cover, the sun can reach the ground and the wildflowers and grasses can flourish.  Because of the need to control fire to keep people and homes safe, we must assist the natural processes and administer prescribed fire to keep the Sandhills as they should be, open.

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