by SC Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen
The Sanibel Prescribed Fire Task Force held an informational meeting this past week to outline their plans for this spring and summer.
Joel Caouette, conservation officer for the City of Sanibel, said that the burns will encompass the Erick A. Lindblad Preserve, Frannies/C.R. Johnston Preserves, and the Sanibel Gardens Preserve. There will be no planned fires in the ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge area this year.
Last year,141 acres were burned and this year’s plan will be slightly less at 125 acres. The three areas will encompass 3 to 5 burn days after April 1.
Holly Milbrandt of the Sanibel Natural Resources Department said the burns would likely not begin until after Easter, when personnel are more available after season. But she pointed out the short window as the burns need to be completed before the summer rainy season.
Burns are conducted to reduce hazardous combustible natural fuel like woody vegetation. This will reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires caused by lightning strikes. The burns also provide for habitat management.
Before a burn is conducted, considerations of the wind, humidity temperature and wind direction must be considered.
Partners in the plan include the Sanibel Fire Department, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Sanibel Police Department, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
During a prescribed burn you are encouraged to close windows, cover pools, move cars to cover, move furniture indoors, and stay inside to minimize the impacts from smoke. It’s suggested that you keep pets inside, and operate your air conditioning. They want you to abide by all signs, road closures and instructions provided by law enforcement and fire personnel.
Smoke sensitive individuals can get on a phone call list to be informed of upcoming burn areas by calling Caouette at 239-472-3700.