With the recent rainfall on Big Pine Key, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is prepared to apply prescribed fire in three locations within the National Key Deer Refuge at the end of this week or this weekend (September 1-3, 2016). When weather conditions are within the fire plan know as a “prescription”, crews are able to safely and effectively apply prescribed fire in the Refuge. The interagency team is closely monitoring weather conditions at this time, preparing for the appropriate window for fire operations within the prescription.
Prescribed fire in the Florida Keys Refuges is implemented by a highly qualified and trained staff of interagency professional fire specialists. The primary reasons for conducting these fires are for ecological purposes aimed at emulating natural fire in the pine rocklands and to protect the wildland urban interface from the accumulation of fuels for protection of our community’s residents and private property. As a result, a defensible space is created between refuge lands and private property in order to prevent or reduce the threat of wildfires. Restoration and maintenance of the pine rockland habitat is essential for a healthy, fire-dependent ecosystem. The continued survival of important local species of concern such as the federally endangered Bartram’s hairstreak butterfly and its host plant, the pineland croton is dependent upon fire.
On the day of the prescribed fire, updates will be available at the Blue Hole observation area parking lot, the Refuge Visitor Center and on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/floridakeysrefuges/ . Visitors and residents can find maps of proposed burn areas in the Refuge Visitor Center located at 179 Key Deer Blvd, Big Pine Key (in the Big Pine shopping plaza across from Winn Dixie; Mon-Fri 9am -4pm, Sat-Sun 10 am-3 pm) and at our website http://www.fws.gov/nationalkeydeer/.
For more information, please contact Dan Clark at 305-304-4907, Kristie Killam 305-304-9625 or Kate Watts at 305-395-1573 and follow Refuge updates on our website and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/floridakeysrefuges
The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska. Refuges also improve human health, provide outdoor recreation, and support local economies. Visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/.