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Everglades Fire Management uses helicopters and firefighters to ignite this carefully planned fire at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. See how fire is used to burn away decades of accumulated dead sawgrass during moist conditions to prevent future, and severe, dry season fires which may threaten the habitat of the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. Once burned, areas quickly become green and less flammable slowing the spread of subsequent fires providing a protective buffer around the sparrow’s habitat. The video shows exciting aerial view of skilled manages creating patterns of burned and unburned areas in the watery Everglades. In addition to reducing fire hazard, this prescribed fire is designed to burn seedlings of Melaleuca, reducing the potential of non-native exotic tree to spread.

This video depicts the complexity of this River of Grass burn. Tamiami trail was the northern boundary and the heavily visited Shark Valley visitor use area was the eastern border of the prescribed fire area. From the Shark Valley tower, and the tram road, the video reveals visitor’s first hand response to this important management tool, prescribed fire.

Years in the planning and near perfect weather conditions were needed to safely accomplish this prescribed fire. Wind direction, wind speed, and relative humidity were key elements in this burn. Watch smoke and fire interact with Florida’s sunny winter skies as thousands of acres are burned in a patchy mosaic.

The burn would not have been possible without the support of Everglades National Park and the excellent staff of Everglades Fire Management. Special thank you to United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Jon Wallace for his insight and Grant Gifford for his fine work as safety officer at Shark Valley. Prescribed Fire Training Center Director Mike Dueitt for technical review of the burn plan. Jordan McKnight Chief, Fire and Aviation Big Cypress National Preserve and his very capable team. The extraordinary helicopter pilot Gary Freeman, HMC Helicopters. Single Engine Airtanker pilot Steve Fletcher of Fletcher Flying Services.

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