Controlled burn in pine flatwoods
Prescribed burns are one of the chief management tools for this area. Fire is crucial to maintain the longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem. Numerous protected species, including the gopher tortoise and Sherman's fox squirrel, make their homes in this fire dependent habitat. Prescribed burns are used to reduce fuel loads of pine needles and oak leaves, to return valuable nutrients to the soils, and also to keep understory hardwoods at bay. Curtailing understory and midstory hardwood growth in longleaf pine habitat is crucial to maintaining the open landscape that is necessary for the species that depend on this natural community to thrive.