Monday, 17 November 2003
Monitoring the Effects of Fire in South Florida Ecosystems: Half a Century of Data
For over half a century fire records, fire behavior, fire weather, and fire effects data have been collected in Everglades National Park. Various research projects, publications, and work has been conducted on the effects of fire in south Florida ecosystems. Over the past few years much of this data has been organized and prepared for entry into an Oracle System as well as integrated with GIS. Today this data is being used not only to steer management decisions, but also complete a programmatic environmental analysis of fire management in Everglades National Park and update national programs, like condition classes, for the area. With little research on fire in some areas of the park (e.g. coastal prairies), the data collected by the fire effects program is becoming not only a value to fire management, but various other resource management offices within south Florida. The fire weather data, which utilizes three RAWS stations within the park, has become crucial in development and implementation of the prescribed fire program. The fire records, which date back to 1948 (the year Everglades National Park was established) along with the meteorological and effects data, have allowed fire personnel and researchers to determine possible fire seasons, regimes, and appropriate prescribed burning windows. Once completely transferred into digital format, this data will allow other disciplines to do comparative analysis and test the short and long-term effects of fire on physical and biological factors within Everglades National Park. Ultimately, this data will be used as part of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration and Comprehensive Everglades Restoration programs to determine the effects of Everglades restoration on fire regimes in south Florida as well as the effects fire may have on the success and implementation of various restoration strategies and plans.