Fire Management Planning, Environmental Assessment

Fire Planning EA

Fire Mangement Program

The purpose of the Fire Management Program is to provide objectives and guidelines for managing the approximately 26,605 acres of fire maintained habitat on Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. 

The Fire Management Plan (FMP) is written to meet Department and Service requirements that every area with burnable vegetation must have an approved FMP (620 DM 1.4).  It complies with a Service requirement that Refuges review and/or revise FMPs at a minimum of five-year intervals or when significant changes are proposed, such as might occur if significant land use changes are made adjacent to FWS lands. (621 FW 2.3C-4) 

The goal of wildland fire management is to plan and implement actions that help accomplish the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  That mission is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. (095 FW 3.2) 

This FMP identifies and integrates all wildland fire management and related activities within the context of an approved Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP).  It defines a program to manage wildland fires and to assure that wildland fire management goals and components are coordinated.

Revising the Fire Management Plan, Environmental Assessment Phase

Big Cypress National Preserve and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge are seeking public comments on a joint Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the environmental impacts of their respective updated Fire Management Plans (FMPs). updated FMPs will keep management objectives current and adopt and refine strategies that help the fire management programs operate more effectively. The updated FMPs will provide fresh focus on restoring fire-dependent communities and threatened and endangered species. Lastly, they will incorporate updates in national fire policy and terminology. In their new FMPs, the Preserve and Refuge will consider strategies to increase their ability to actively manage wildland fire and vegetation/fuels.

The EA analyzes the impacts of two alternatives:

Alternative A – No Action. The current fire management practices at the Preserve and Refuge would continue. Both units would continue implementing the strategies in their current plans, which include fire suppression, prescribed burning, and the use of mechanical treatments.

Alternative B – Proposed Action. The same fire management techniques and tools allowed under Alternative A would be used with two added options: The Preserve would augment its ability to use mechanical treatments to reduce hazard fuels, maintain defensible space and fuel breaks to protect infrastructure and private property, and restore cultural landscapes; and the Preserve could also consider managing wildfires for resource objectives.


In January 2015,  Big Cypress National Preserve ( and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) began a coordinated fire management planning effort.    

As part of the National Park Service’s (NPS’s) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) coordinated efforts to conserve, protect, and enhance natural and cultural resources and to meet shared safety and resource management goals and objectives, the NPS and FWS are working together on a joint Environmental Assessment (EA) to propose updated fire management plans (FMPs) for Big Cypress National Preserve in Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade counties, Florida and Florida Panther NWR in Collier County, Florida.  Federal wildland fire policy requires that every area with burnable vegetation must have a FMP; further, fire management planning activities and program components will be coordinated across administrative boundaries (620 Department of Interior Manual 1.4).   

How do I submit comments on the Fire Management Environmental Assessment? 

 You can provide comments online or by mail. Before including an address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Comments by mail may be sent to Superintendent, Big Cypress National Preserve, 33100 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, Florida 34141-1000.

Comments are requested by August 19, 2016. Once the comment period concludes, we will consider all comments submitted in the development of the final EA and decision document.

The Environmental Assessment is available at

If you have questions, please contact Jordan McKnight, 239-695-9280 ext. 103,


Public comments on initial fire management planning were collected during a public meeting on January 21, 2015, as well as by mail and electronic submission at, but the period for comments closed on February 27, 2015.

 Comments received during scoping will help NPS and FWS develop and analyze alternatives and update the existing FMPs for Big Cypress National Preserve and Florida Panther NWR.


Where do I get more information?

The agencies have prepared a scoping brochure that gives project details and describes two alternatives for fire management which can be found at

For BICY fire management information:

For more information about Florida Panther NWR Prescribed Burning: