Partners Collaborate on Wet Prairie Fire
By Vernon Compton, The Longleaf Alliance
The Northwest Florida Water Management District, along with GCPEP partners, conducted a prescribed fire on the Garcon Point Water Management Area in Santa Rosa County, Florida on March 14, 2017. The Garcon Point Water Management Area consists of 3,245 acres on the Garcon Peninsula situated between Escambia Bay and Blackwater Bay. These lands provide habitat for many rare plant and animal species, including pitcher plants and the reticulated salamander. Wet natural communities such as wet prairie, wet flatwoods, and estuarine tidal marsh make up this unique area in the panhandle of Florida.
Fire is the management tool that helps to maintain the habitat in good condition. The prescribed fire was aerially ignited and used low-ground pressure equipment that included a Marsh Master, an amphibious vehicle. It was conducted under the leadership of the District’s certified prescribed burn managers. “All prescribed burns involve a significant amount of cooperation, and the District appreciates the partnerships that allow us to conduct successful burns,” said Lennie Zeiler, the Director of the Division of Asset Management for the Northwest Florida Water Management District. “The recent burn at Garcon Point was made possible not only by our talented staff but by the assistance of no fewer than eight participating partners from the GCPEP.” With an outstanding burn plan and a high level of collaboration and communication among the partners, the fire has been a model partnership burn for decades. 2017 was no exception and the NWFWMD and GCPEP partners are to be congratulated for completion of yet another priority prescribed fire on 2,045 acres in the GCPEP landscape, further improving habitat conditions in these unique natural communities. In the coming months, a striking display will be evident along the Garcon Point trail system as pitcher plants and other carnivorous plants showcase post fire.
Image 1: Patrolling the Fire Line with the Marsh Master. Photo by Kristal Walsh, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission