Okefenokee-Osceola Longleaf Implementation Team Update
By Hunter Bowman, The Nature Conservancy
The Okefenokee-Osceola Longleaf Implementation Team (O2LIT) has been hard at work fighting the West Mims wildfire, which broke out in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) on April 6th, due to a lightning strike. As of May 18, the fire was over 150,000 acres in size and under the control of the Southern Area Red Incident Management Team. Many team members and partners were actively participating in suppression efforts, including members of the Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners (GOAL), ONWR staff, Osceola National Forest staff, the Georgia Forestry Commission, and the Florida Forest Service. The vast majority of the burned acres occurred within the Swamp Perimeter Road, on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. While burning in the swamp, the wildfire causes very little harm and is a natural disturbance in the swamp ecosystem. Parts of the Florida Forest Services’ John Bethea State Forest and the Osceola National Forest also burned. The fire spotted and slopped over the road onto private property at times, where it can wreak havoc in timber stands. Firefighters have worked very hard to protect life and property down in the O2.
Image 1: A view of the West Mims Wildfire from a Spotter Plane. Photo by Spotter Plane.