This documentary was filmed, produced, and edited by Into Nature Films in collaboration with Big Cypress National Preserve and features the management of the Mud Lake Complex, a series of wildfires caused by lightning strikes at Big Cypress in late spring 2015.
The Mud Lake Complex wildfires burned over 35,000 acres of Big Cypress National Preserve. Although naturally-ignited wildfires have helped shape the fire-adapted and fire-dependent Big Cypress landscape for thousands of years, fire managers cannot allow fires to freely roam the preserve without some degree of management. In the case of the Mud Lake Complex, major transportation corridors, private property and public safety all had to be protected.
Big Cypress fully embraces the scientific role of fire in the preserve’s cycle of life – from the plants to the wildlife. The preserve’s goal in their response to wildfire is to manage fire so it can provide natural benefit to the area and its inhabitants without threatening human safety.
The initial fire, the Ellison fire, began on May 8. Fire managers established boundaries to contain the fire, but continued lightning strikes over the next 48 hours ignited numerous other fires throughout the preserve.
Big Cypress requested help from the brightest minds in the firefighting and natural resources communities. Help came in from all over the country in the form of collaboration with other local, state and federal agencies and multiple interagency incident management teams.