Fire Can Be Good for the Everglades 

fireIt’s dry season in Florida and the Everglades, which means fires (unfortunately) pop up across the state. Last year was a particularly bad year for fires. In just the beginning of May alone last year, there was 125 active fires across the state burning 31,000 acres.  Although these fires are harmful to wildlife, plant life and humans, there actually beneficial (in moderation) to the ecosystem.  

For the Pinelands area of the Everglades, fires kill off the hammock species that would end up overpowering pines and many other plants. The hammock species create too much shadow 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.  

Fires can also help keep grassy prairies in check; too much grass keeps the water from flowing properly in the Everglades, and the fire can burn away some grass. Fires also help mangroves from overpowering other plants in the wetland.  

Park officials monitor all fires in the Everglades, regardless if they are near people or not.   

The River of Grass Prescribed Fire Plan uses fire to help restore and maintain wet prairies and sawgrass marshes and to reduce hazardous fuels in proximity of occupied Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. These are conducted in the Pay-Hay-Okee, East Everglades, Shark Valley, Stair-Steps and Taylor Slough areas. These fires alone are started because relying on natural fires alone would not slow the shrub encroachment. These prescribed fires work with naturals fires and are not created to replace natural fires.  

Other fires are started to reduce the invasion of exotic plants into natural areas. These invasive exotic plants can kill the Everglades’ natural flora.  

Although fire is unhealthy for humans to be around and can hurt good plants, it can also help keep a balanced ecosystem. Park officals and firefighters work tirelessly throughout the year to keep the fires from spreading into developments.  

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