Before there were roads, canals, modern agriculture, or big cities, lightning-set fires frequently swept almost unimpeded across Florida's landscape. Over thousands of years, many native habitats evolved under the influence of fire, and now depend on it.
In modern times, fire has been increasingly excluded from natural lands, causing a dramatic decline in the extent and condition of fire-dependent habitats. As a result, many unique plants and animals needing these habitats are disappearing and flammable vegetation has accumulated to unnaturally high and hazardous levels in many areas. We are actively working to restore and maintain fire-dependent habitats, and to reduce the likelihood of destructive wildfires. Our primary tool is prescribed burning, with which we mimic lightning fires by carefully reintroducing fire according to detailed control plans called "prescriptions".
The goals of refuge prescribed fires are to:
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The Dusky Seaside Sparrow was a non-migratory subspecies of the Seaside Sparrow, found in Florida in the natural salt marshes of Merritt Island and along the St. Johns River. The last definite known individual died on June 17, 1987, and the subspecies was officially declared extinct in December 1990.