Natural Communities Management at St. Marks River Preserve

fire, management, natural

Prescribed fire is used to mimic natural lightning set fires, which are one of the primary natural forces that shaped Florida’s ecosystem. 

Prescribed burning increases the abundance and health of many wildlife species. Florida has a large number of imperiled species of plants and animals that are dependent on periodic fire for their continued existence. Fire-dependent natural communities gradually accumulate flammable vegetation; therefore, prescribed fire reduces wildfire hazards by reducing these wild land fuels.

Fire-dependent natural communities at the park include mesic flatwoods, sandhill, upland pine forest, depression marsh and seepage slope. Fire-influenced natural communities within St. Marks River Preserve State Park include upland mixed forest, basin swamp and dome swamp. Local wildlife populations that depend on or benefit from well-maintained fire-adapted natural communities include gopher tortoise, Southeastern pocket gopher, Northern bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer and wild turkey.

Prescribed burning is the primary management tool for mimicking natural processes and improving and maintaining quality habitats for these and many other wildlife species. Burn zone descriptions, management objectives, GIS generated maps and current burn prescriptions are reviewed annually and updated as necessary as part of the park’s prescribed burn management plan.