Prescribed burns have been a common practice in Florida, and we all know that the fire is good for the environment; but, what happens after the burn? Prescribed burns are about a lot more than just thinning out vegetation. The fire that has been suppressed from occurring naturally, due to development, serves many other purposes.
Fire is essential for some native plant species seeds to open and carry on the next generation’s genes. The fire also will often kill and destroy the seeds of invasive exotic plant species’ that cannot tolerate the heat, as they have not evolved to handle these conditions. The thinning of the sub-canopy species allows for many ferns and wildflower pioneer species to sprout in the newly introduced sunlight.
Pollinators like bees and butterflies swarm to these flowers that have risen from the ash. The ash itself is incredibly nutrient rich and makes these plants grow very quickly allowing wildflowers to put out flowers very soon after the plant sprouts.
Ground dwelling creatures either move out of the area or hide in holes like Gopher Tortoise burrows during the fire. When they emerge, they see a very changed world temporarily but, in as little as two weeks, the area is thriving again.
These pictures were taken approximately two weeks after the burn at Boyd Hill Nature Park in St. Petersburg. You can already see flowers in bloom, ferns unfolding and ground vegetation beginning to flourish. So, the next time you see a fire off in the distance, it could be a prescribed burn. Stay out of the area when the burn is in progress and stay well clear, even after, to be safe. It can be very interesting to see things beginning to change after the burn!