Prescribed Fire at St. Sebastian

Aerial photo of prescribed burn at SSRPSP

Since the beginning of time, fire has played a vital role in the natural environment of what is now Florida. Lightning-set fires fueled by winds have historically swept through the region, shaping nearly every ecosystem, including those at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park.

Aerial photo of prescribed burn at SSRPSP

Prescribed fire at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park

Prescribed fire is a tool that land managers use to apply a natural process and support ecosystem health. Prescribed fire restores natural habitats, provides natural fertilizer and reduces the likelihood of wildfires.

Florida Scrub Jay

Florida scrub-jay

Prescribed fire increases the diversity of flora and fauna, and it prevents the spread of invasive species. Many of Florida’s imperiled species of plants and animals rely on fire for the health of their natural community.

Prescribed fire is rigorously planned and applied by a team of fire experts under specified weather conditions. Fire managers and burn bosses in the Florida Park Service are trained to implement a prescribed fire that is effective and ensures the safety of the public, local communities and the burn team.

During the burn, the fire crew patrols the perimeter to ensure the burn stays within the designated area. The crew monitors the weather and checks the burn area, making sure there are no concerns until the fire is completely extinguished.

Science continues to push land managers in a direction that mimics natural processes, and prescribed fire is no exception. Resident species that depend on fire for their survival include the endangered red-cockaded woodpeckerFlorida scrub-jay and the gopher tortoise.

Here at the preserve, you will likely come across areas that have had fire applied. We are very active in our prescribed fire efforts, allowing us to highlight the beauty of the natural systems located within the preserve. The diversity of plants and wildflowers, where our state derived its name (La Florida - The land of many flowers), is on full display throughout the year at the preserve.

Fire crew igniting prairie with drip torch

Allowing visitor access to witness this transformation, from charred soil after a prescribed fire into fresh new growth, is one of our greatest missions. Witnessing the freshly burnt landscape and returning weeks later to new life is a unique opportunity here at the preserve. Prescribed fire stimulates the nutrients in the soil and promotes new growth of grasses, fruits, seeds and insects, creating a plentiful food source for wildlife.

Fire crew holding a fire line at St. Sebastian River Preserve

With annual burn goals set and achieved at 5,000 to 7,000 acres, you are sure to see the transformation on each visit.

Please feel free to ask any of our dedicated staff at the preserve for more information on our fire program. Prescribed fire is a major priority here at the preserve, and we are happy to discuss its history and benefits.

At St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park we are restoring ...The Real Florida, one prescribed fire at a time.