Prescribed Burn at Pensacola Bay Mitigation Bank
Prescribed burning is a complex task best left to experts in the field; and the more experts involved in such a project, the better. Recently, Westervelt Ecological Services’ John McGuire and the Garcon Point Stewards combined their expertise to jointly burn roughly 200 acres in the Pensacola Bay area of Florida. Garcon Point Stewards is a subgroup of the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership (GCPEP), which is a unique organization reintroducing fire as an ecosystem management tool in one of the most important conservation landscapes in the Southeast. The GCPEP is a made up of private, public, and not-for-profit landowners partnering to manage more than a million acres in Northwest Florida and South Alabama, including some of the highest quality remaining longleaf pine habitat in the world. WES has been proud to be a participating member since 2008.
This burn on November 30, 2011, consisted partly of our Pensacola Bay Mitigation Bank and the adjoining Yellow River Marsh Preserve, owned by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), also a member of the GCPEP. Ecologically, it made more sense to conduct a joint burn on both areas instead of constructing fire breaks between the properties. Also, both WES and the FDEP have the same goals of restoring longleaf pine and wet prairie habitat. Prescribed fire is an important tool in this restoration process. Because WES had proactively laid the groundwork for such a circumstance by joining the GCPEP, a joint burn was eagerly agreed upon and conducted flawlessly, benefitting all parties and habitats involved.