Preserving a Beauty for All to See


A fire crew from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in November 2005 traveled to the state of Maryland’s Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area northwest of Baltimore to help fire specialists there restore habitat for the federally endangered sandplain gerardia.

The crew worked with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to manage the prescribed fire to benefit the pink-flowered member of the figwort family, which has been protected  throughout its range in the northeast United States since 1988. The state is working to restore the unique serpentine grassland at Soldiers Delight using a combination of mechanical thinning and prescribed burning to push back encroaching Virginia Pines.

State and federal fire crews burned 42 acres of grasslands on state land, and were assisted by Maryland Conservation Corps, Maryland Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy and members from the local county fire department.

"The partnership that has developed over the past several years between the (Blackwater) burn crew and the Natural Heritage Program has worked extremely well from our perspective," said Glenn Therres, Associate Director of Wildlife and Heritage Service for the Maryland DNR, who watched as the fire was ignited and managed. "We should be proud of our efforts to restore this ecosystem."

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