Fire in the Everglades, Good or Bad?

We’re headed into the wet season, thankfully. Florida has experienced a very dry winter. It’s been so dry that fires were lighting up across the state burning down acres and acres of trees. In the beginning of May, there were 125 active fires across the state burning around 31,000 acres. Since the start of the new year, the Sunshine state has experienced 2,000 fires. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner said on May 8th, “Florida is in the middle of its worst wildfire season in years – with no end in sight.”

Although these fires are destructive to both wildlife and people throughout the state, there are, believe it or not, benefits to some fires occurring in the ecosystem of the Everglades. Below, we wanted to share with you some information from the National Park Service on the benefits of fire to the Everglades.

For the Pinelands area of the Everglades, fires that come through this area kill off the hammock species that would end up overpowering pines and many other plants. The hammock species create so much shadow covering that the other plants receive no sunlight and die off. Pinelands respond well to fires that come through and bounce back quickly.

Hammocks have also adapted to fires and can protect themselves from burning out completely from fires. These hammocks are surrounded by wet depressions and are moist deep inside, which can help deter fires.

Fire always helps keep the grassy areas on prairies in check. When there is too much grass, it’s harder for the water to properly flow through the Everglades. With coastal prairies, fires maintain a diverse and balance ecosystem so mangroves and exotic plants don’t overwhelm other plants and areas. These fires are not near where people live, but they are still monitored.

Fire can be alarming and unhealthy for people and the environment, but they can also help keep a balanced ecosystem. Officials and firefighters work hard to fight and monitor all fires in the state, so the environment and buildings get the least amount of damage as possible.

If you’ve never been to the Everglades, a great way to experience this wetland is through an airboat tour. You’ll be able to see the ecosystem up-close-and-personal. Captain Mitch’ Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in this wetland for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click here or call 800-368-0065.