SCCF, in cooperation with the City of Sanibel and other local partners, is planning to conduct a prescribed burn of a portion of the Erick Lindblad Preserve in the coming days and weeks as conditions permit. The prescribed burn will help to preserve the natural ecology of the area and reduce the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires.
Currently, a specific date has not been scheduled for the burn; however, SCCF Burn Boss Victor Young and partner organizations are monitoring for favorable environmental and forecast conditions.
"We will post a notice on social media and on our website by about 9am the day the burn will take place once all permits are approved by the Florida Forest Service," said Young.
Trails behind the SCCF Nature Center on Sanibel-Captiva Road in the Erick Lindblad Preserve will be closed the day of the burn and will remain closed until an inspection of the trails is conducted the following morning.
Some of the management goals are decreasing hazardous fuel loads, perpetuating the open canopy that is characteristic of the marsh ecosystem by reducing the encroachment of woody vegetation, primarily buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus).
“Although buttonwood is a native tree, it becomes very aggressive when the fire regime is decreased and hydrology is altered,” said Young. “Fire also enhances wildlife habitat and wetland function. Wildlife such as wading birds, secretive marsh birds, and birds of prey benefit from prescribed fire in the marsh lands."
The prep work was significantly accelerated thanks to the underwriting of a new tractor purchase by Anne Nobles and David Johnson.
"Having the new equipment definitely made preparing the fire lines and burn units effortless compared to the past so that was a great bonus," added Young.
Only a portion of the Erick Lindblad Preserve will be burned, including up to 30 acres between the main office (HQ) and the Wildlife & Habitat Management (HM) building and south to the Sanibel River as indicated on the map below.
Depending on the wind direction and strength, it may be possible to see or smell smoke. Smoke sensitive individuals should keep their windows closed and avoid outdoor activities in the affected areas. Residents and visitors are also encouraged to close their windows, cover pools, and move cars and furniture indoors. Ash and smoke associated with a prescribed burn cannot be prevented.
After the prescribed burn has been completed, there may be occasional smoke seen from the burned area for several days. Fire personnel will monitor the burned area and adjacent roads taking all precautions necessary to have personnel and equipment on-site to minimize fire activity and smoke impacts to the public.
To learn more about prescribed burns, click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions. To be included on the City's list of Smoke Sensitive Individuals and receive notification regarding future prescribed burns on Sanibel, please contact Joel Caouette at the City of Sanibel at (239) 472-3700 or email Joel.Caouette@mysanibel.com. For questions on the day of the burn, contact SCCF Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz, who will serve as Public Information Officer, at (239) 472-3984.
You can also monitor the City's website www.mysanibel.com for the latest updates.