Keeping Fire on Our Side
A Friendship Based on Respect.For thousands of years, humans have had an active partnership with fire. When respected and managed with care, fire can be a beneficial ally rather than an awesome opponent. Thoughtful preparation and action by public managers and private property owners can help keep fire's effects positive. Together, we can keep fire on our side.
The southeast Region is made up of 128 refuges with over 4 million acres, of which just over 3.5 million of those acres are burnable. Refuges can be found in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. With such a large area and varied ecosystems fire management activities in the region is as dynamic as the species these refuges serve to protect.
Burning for the birds at Piedmont NWR.
It began with a hot fire – trees scorched to the top, a mile long stretch of highly visible forest turned brown. It ended with a five-fold increase in an endangered species. What was it? The answer is a prescribed fire.
Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is in middle Georgia, about 20 miles north of Macon. More than two-thirds of the refuge is covered in loblolly and shortleaf pine, with the rest evenly distributed between upland and bottomland hardwoods. In these pine forests lives a unique, endangered bird – the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW). The species is unique because it’s the only North American woodpecker to peck cavities in living trees. A breeding pair excavates a cluster of cavity trees at one site. Red-cockaded woodpeckers are endangered because they are specialists. Their nesting habitat is large diameter, old pine trees with little to no woody mid-story vegetation. The large old pine trees are mostly gone because they’re compatible with neither pine plantations nor subdivisions. The woody mid-story is thick due to fire suppression. This is where prescribed fire comes in.
Okefenokee Firefighters Return the Favor
Folkston, GA….When Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge had its extensive fires in 2007 and 2011-2012, hundreds of firefighters from nearly every state came to our assistance. This past summer, Okefenokee’s fire staff lent a hand at fires burning out West – in Idaho, Oregon, California, and Washington state.
Report: Fuels Treatments Reduce Wildfire Suppression Cost | Merritt Island National Wildlifre Refuge May 2012
Prescribed fires conducted on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge during the past five years reduced hazardous vegetation fuels, thereby protecting NASA and Refuge infrastructure, employees and visitors by mitigating and minimizing the intensity and duration of wildfires and significantly reducing impacts and costs of wildfires. The two prescribed burns analyzed in this report cost $56,000 ($9.08/acre) to complete. The three wildfires ignited by lightning cost $106,000 ($191.68/acre) to extinguish. Projected cost savings of wildfire suppression following the hazardous fuels treatments on these two units was $3.6 million.
STEP Student John Cooper Gets Some Hands on Experience of Fire at St. Marks NWR
STEP Student John Cooper on a prescribed burn at St. Vincent NWR. Photo: USFWS
John Cooper who spent the summer as an intern at St. Marks NWR was able to get wildland firefighter qualified this summer. He was able to help the refuge with some prescribed fires and neighboring landowners with wildfires.
Pad Fire - Managing widlfires around NASA infrastructure
A view of Space Shuttle Atlantis on Pad A with the Pad fire in the background. Photo: Ryan Sharpe - USFWS
Being located in and around NASA the Merritt Island NWR Fire Management team faces tough wildfire situations frequently. Between the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor for mission STS-134 and the preparation of Space Shuttle Atlantis for STS-135 a wildfire broke out near the space shuttle launch pads. The firefighters at Merritt Island had to manage the fire so it wouldn't delay the rollout of Space Shuttle Atlantis which is will fly the last Space Shuttle mission in early July.
US Fish and Wildlife provides firefighter training in Puerto Rico
Firefighters in Wildfire training hosted by the Caribbean Islands NWR - USFWS
Since 2005 the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have worked together to provide wildland fire training for Puerto Rican firefighters.
Redding Hotshot Detail - Joseph Sharbaugh
2010 Redding IHC hiking up the line on the Caribou Complex in the Plumas National Forest (CA).
Joseph Sharbaugh, a firefighter at Merritt Island NWR, was a member of the 2010 Redding Hotshot Training Crew. He shares his experiences with the crew and the valuable training opportunities from his detail.
Burning for Attention at National Convention
Greg Titus and Tim Hepola speak with convention goers about FWS Fire Management across the nation. - USFWS
For the second year in a row, FWS Fire Management and the Prescribed Fire Training Center have had exhibits at the Annual National Society of American Foresters Convention. The FWS Fire Management booth was staffed by Greg Titus, Fire Management Officer and Tim Hepola Fire Ecologist. Greg Titus said, "Many of the students we spoke with do not know how active the Fish and Wildlife Service using prescribed fire in the fire-dependent habitats. It was great to talk with them and share my passion for using fire as a tool."