5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 8:30 AM
The Florida scrub-jay fire strike team
Mary R. Huffman, The Nature Conservancy, Babson Park, FL; and S. C. Morrison, A. R. Peterson, and B. Pace-Aldana
The Florida Scrub-jay Fire Strike Team is a six-member roving inter-agency prescribed burning team that assists land managers to conduct difficult prescribed burns in the ancient scrub ecosystem of the Lake Wales Ridge, located in the center of the Florida Peninsula, USA. This shrub-dominated ecosystem has a high concentration of endemic species, many of which are fire-dependent. Fire behavior in the ecosystem is high intensity with long-range spotting; scrub vegetation is classified in the USA as a chaparral fuel type. Land managers use ecologically-based prescribed burning to restore habitat for Floridaís endemic scrub-jay and 24 other federally listed endangered and threatened species. Prescribed burning is helping to reduce fuel loads in this landscape of serious wildfire threat in a wildland-urban interface setting of increasing complexity.

Envisioned as a five-year project, the Florida Scrub-Jay Fire Strike Team is currently operating in its fourth year. Since project inception, land managers from eleven organizations have voluntarily submitted requests for the teamís assistance in burning 34 conservation areas. The team has assisted managers to burn 140 fire management units on 13 conservation areas, with 52 units being burned so far this year.

The team is coordinated by The Nature Conservancy on behalf of the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Working Group, a consortium of a dozen government and private organizations working to save the ancient scrub ecosystem. The team is supported by seven funding partners. Its thirteen member inter-agency steering committee guides selection of areas to be burned and fire management standards of the program.

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