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Prescribed burn on Sanibel Island

April 3, 2014
Special to the Reporter ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Today, April 3, the City received notification that The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) will be conducting prescribed burns on the Frannie's Preserve (along the east side of Tarpon Bay Road, south of Bailey's, north of Casa Ybel) to help preserve the natural ecology of the area and to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires.

Depending on the wind direction and strength, it may be possible to see or smell smoke. Smoke sensitive individuals should keep their windows closed and avoid outdoor activities in the affected areas.

For additional details regarding the prescribed burns, please contact Chris Lechowicz, SCCF Habitat Manager, at 470-3313.

Prescribed fire background information:

Fire is a natural part of Florida's ecosystem, historically set by lightning. Because of this history of periodic fires many of Florida's natural communities are adapted to burning. Fire removes old vegetation, promotes new growth of native vegetation and suppresses the growth of non-native invasive plants. In the absence of fire many plant communities are displaced by dense, woody vegetation which can reduce plant diversity and eliminate foraging opportunities for the island's wildlife. Species such as the gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snakes, and the Sanibel rice rat all depend on a fire maintained ecosystem.

In addition to the natural benefits of fire, purposefully setting and controlling fires can prevent wildland fires. This technique, often called "prescribed fire," will reduce the amount of vegetation -- or "fuel". When conducting prescribed fires, managers consider environmental conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, recent rainfall, wind speed and direction, soil moisture, fuel conditions, and the type of burn that can be conducted. Following a predefined prescription allows fire management officers to determine the desired fire behavior (intensity, flame length, direction of fire spread and smoke dispersion). A prescribed fire will not be conducted if the prescription cannot be met, i.e. if the proper wind conditions and relative humidity are not present on the day of the burn, the burn will not be conducted.

To address safety and wildland fire issues on Sanibel, the City of Sanibel, the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge formed the "Sanibel Firewise Task Force." There are many things a homeowner can do to reduce the wildfire risk around a home. Suggestions include: trimming dead palm fronds from trees, trimming any tall grasses near the home, pruning large, leafy hardwood trees so the lowest branches are six to ten feet above the ground, eliminating combustible materials such as gasoline containers, firewood, and building supplies from being stored under or around the home, and keeping mulch and other

landscaping material well watered. For additional information regarding fire and prescribed burning on Sanibel, please contact the Natural Resources Department at 472-3700.



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