Smoke filled the sky Friday afternoon as Brookgreen Gardens began a controlled burning of the northern forested areas of the property.
“Prescribed burning is an important part of our forest management strategy to maintain the critical long leaf pine habitat and prevent wildfires.” said Page Kiniry, Brookgreen’s President and CEO in a news release.
Brookgreen officials say the long leaf pine forest is an important part of our area’s ecology and critical for the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker and other wildlife.
“The whole burning itself, it’s good stewardship and a good conservation project we do here at Brookgreen,” said Mike Ammons, director of Natural Areas with Brookgreen. “Any kind of wildlife would thrive on something like this once it starts growing back, because it’ll come back so much more succulent.”
Controlled fires help eliminate brush and debris from the forest floor, which allows the young long leaf pine trees to grow and flourish, along with managing certain plant diseases.
“We maintain about 4,000 acres here at Brookgreen itself and we want to keep a long leaf ecosystem thriving,” Ammons said.
On Friday, Brookgreen crews burned 110 acres, keeping brush and debris under control, which lessens the chance for an out of control forest fire to impact our area.
“It creates a better habitat for most wildlife species and another benefit is it fireproofs the forest, so if a wildfire happened to come through here after we burn, it really wouldn’t burn,” said Tim Dargan, who does forest management at Brookgreen. “So that hazard reduction is another reason why we do it.”
The controlled fires are conducted around every two to three years, when there is enough buildup of dead brush and debris on the forest floor.