Posted: Jun 03, 2010 12:24 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 03, 2010 12:24 PM EDT
Posted by Heather Setzler - bio|email
BRUNSWICK CO., NC (WECT) - The Nature Conservancy plans to burn several sites in Brunswick and Pender counties this summer in order to help save some rare plants and endangered animals.
Officials will conduct controlled burns in Haws Run and McLean's Savanna in Pender County and the Green Swamp and Myrtle Head Savanna in Brunswick County between June 1 and September 30.
Below is an excerpt from a news release sent out Thursday by the North Carolina chapter of the Nature Conservancy:
All the properties are owned and managed by the Conservancy. They are home to a number of rare plants including Venus fly traps and pitcher plants, and federally endangered species such as Cooley's meadowrue and golden sedge. The sites also contain longleaf pine, which are home to the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
"These sites have an amazing biodiversity," said Angie Carl, who directs the Conservancy's controlled burning in the southeast coastal plain. "The number of rare plants is probably unparalleled anywhere else in the state and even across the country. But, all those special plants are threatened because the areas are filled with shrubs and hardwoods that are shading them out. These burns will remove the undesirable species and allow the sun to come through."
Fires once occurred at regular intervals in the coastal plain. These were typically low-intensity fires fueled by grass and pine straw, which kept hardwood trees at bay and allowed the longleaf pines and other species to thrive in the open. All that changed in the last century, when emphasis was placed on fire suppression and land managers lost sight of the fact that fire is important in maintaining some landscapes.
Controlled burning is a science, and burns are carefully planned and conducted. Nature Conservancy staff look at an area and determine if its ecology can benefit from fire. They develop a fire plan for the site that lays out the conditions under which a fire can achieve its ecological goals, which typically are to knock back competing species like young hardwood trees and reduce the amount of dead material lying around, while allowing the fire-adapted species such as Venus flytraps and longleaf pines to flourish in the opened area. After the fire, the Conservancy monitors the burned area to see if it met the ecological goals. The highest priority for all controlled burns is to provide for public and crew safety.
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