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Habitat Improvement on State lands: Interagency Burn Team

Prescribed fire remains the most effective tool in conserving and restoring habitats for species of concern across the state. Working with Interagency Burn Team partners, the Nongame Conservation Section prescribed fireapplied prescribed fire to key habitats on state, federal and private lands. Section staff led or assisted prescribed burns on 25,660 acres in 2010. This work also involved other WRD staff, state Parks and Historic Sites Division staff, and volunteers trained to federal standards.

The Nature Conservancy was key in training and management. In addition to funding from the State Wildlife Grants Program, funds from the Wildlife Conservation Society allowed the Nongame Conservation Section to hire a seasonal fire crew through the Student Conservation Association. This crew proved extremely productive thanks to their mobile nature and dedication to conservation. The crew works statewide on short notice.

Other land management techniques applied statewide on natural areas as well as wildlife management areas and state parks. These habitat improvements varied from planting acres of native groundcover – including 100,000 wiregrass plugs on Elmodel WMA – to thinning upland forests and planting more than 500 acres of longleaf pine, with sites including Chickasawhatchee WMA, Fall Line DNR's Nathan Klaus and volunteers collecting grass seedSandhills Natural Area and Black Creek Natural Area. Additional activities included removal of invasive exotic plants such as kudzu, sand pine, chinaberry, Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, and Chinese privet from Joe Kurz WMA and other restoration sites, as well as harvesting wiregrass seed.

Nongame Conservation Section staff monitored several sites to ensure that adaptive management is as effective as possible. This effort varied from photo-monitoring in burn units to taking more sophisticated measurements in longleaf pine restoration areas.

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