Residents of adjacent areas will see and possibly smell smoke from the fire, and fire activities may temporarily inconvenience boaters in the area as well as motorists along Barefoot-Williams and also possibly Tower Road. Fire personnel will contact residents in the area to ensure their safety while traveling near activity areas and will carefully monitor the fire throughout the day until it extinguishes.
“The main purpose of our prescribed fire program is to reduce the underbrush and dry fallen plant matter that can fuel catastrophic wildfires and also to manage wildlife habitat,” said RBNERR Resource Management Coordinator Jeff Carter. According to Carter, a major portion of Collier County is comprised of plants that are dependent on fire to maintain species composition and diversity. These species are the same species that are prone to lightning-strike wildfires, and the controlled reduction of those fuels will prevent catastrophic wildfire damage. Fire-dependent plants include the South Florida slash pine, gallberry, saw palmetto and scrub oaks.
Prescribed fire provides many benefits in natural areas including:
¨ Reduction of underbrush and fuels to decrease threat of wildfires.
¨ Forage for wildlife – burning substantially benefits wildlife by stimulating food and seed production and opening sunlit areas for feeding and travel.
¨ Ecosystem diversity – fire breaks down complex organic molecules allowing nutrients to be recycled. Fire changes both the composition and density of the forest.
¨ Endangered and threatened species – habitat preferences of several listed species, including the Florida panther, gopher tortoise, indigo snake and red-cockaded woodpecker, are enhanced by fire.
¨ Invasive plant control efforts – minimizing impacts to native species while reducing coverage of invasive species.
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 110,000 acres between Naples and Everglades National Park that are managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas in cooperation with the NOAA. It serves as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for students and scientists from around the world.