The Palmetto Bluff Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the wildlife and environment of Palmetto Bluff. As a conservancy versus a preservation, the team’s goal is to make the habitat here at Palmetto Bluff the best it can be instead of just letting Mother Nature run her course. Because of this, the Conservancy team can be found in the woods during the winter and early spring months completing prescribed burns. These burns are strategically placed for a number of reasons and help enrich our beloved natural environment. Prescribed burning is the best wildlife and forestry management tool at our disposal.
- It is a cost-effective way to reduce the hardwood regeneration that blocks the sunlight from the forest floor. Once we burn these areas, sunlight is better able to reach the ground and promotes new growth which is beneficial to all our wildlife.
- Prescribed burning encourages the development of the age classes of a healthy forest stand. A thriving forest should be made up of at least three different age classes or have an overstory, a midstory and an understory. All of these levels are made up of different species of trees and shrubs and each level benefits different species of wildlife.
- When a burn is conducted, “edge effect” is maximized within the forest stand. Edge is where two or more plant communities come together. All of our wildlife from the smallest shrew to the white-tailed deer is attracted to edge. For feeding, nesting, or cover, all of our animals are utilizing these areas more frequently than areas without edge effect.
- Burning fertilizes older trees through the ash produced. The older trees in a stand with regular burning are healthier than those in forests that are not burned.
- Some trees, shrubs and other plants rely on fire for seed dispersal, germination or the reduction of competitors. For example, pond pines rely on fire to open up their cones to allow for seed dispersion. Longleaf pines depend on fire to control their competition. Longleaf is very slow growing and without fire, would be out competed by faster growing trees.
- Prescribed burning also lowers the fuel load in our wild areas which in turn reduce the threat of wild fires from lightning strikes or careless humans.
So the next time you smell smoke or see the Conservancy team covered in soot, remember that prescribed burning is helping our ecosystem stay healthy as well as protecting our homes from the threat of wildfires.