Bringing the Heat

By: Ray Hawthorne
By: Ray Hawthorne

You might think that even a prescribed fire would decimate everything in its path, but even a few weeks after the burn, the forest shows signs of life.

Ken Weber said, "A cleansing fire in which the canopy is lessened gets more sunlight to the ground, and these grasses will generate just a few weeks after the prescribed fire."

Not only are the grasses regenerating, but animals such as the gopher tortoise are still thriving.

"It also needs fairly clear ground, sandy ground where it can dig and excavate its burrow. The gopher tortoise is a ground turtle that will live up to 100 years old, and without the fire community it will be displaced and eventually wiped out of the community."

How about those pristine longleaf pines?

"It appears that the branches have been killed, but the new buds are ready to shoot out. Within a couple of weeks you'll see new needles coming from these buds."

Prescribed fire is necessary for the forests. If you don't get them every couple of years, they could have dire results.

Ken Weber said, "You could have a buildup of fuels to have hazardous conditions, fuel levels that would get so high, if a wildfire occurs, that you'll be threatening life and property."

That's why these forests will have prescribed burns every few years.


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