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Monday, February 16, 2009

Green Swamp on Fire

A prescribed burn in a southeastern Carolina pine savanna.

When you see a fire or smoke your first thought most certainly would be to call the fire department! On the day of 2/01/09 the locals near the town of Supply, NC may have been inclined to do so. In this case, the fire department is doing the burning.

So what happen on the first Sunday of the month? The woods were on fire. Not by accident, but what is called a prescribed burn. The Nature Conservancy – owners of the Green Swamp Preserve – periodically burn parts of this vast region in order to save it. We don’t usually think of fire as saving anything yet it’s Nature’s way of preserving the richness of a vanishing ecosystem.

From the Nature Conservancy’s website:
"Many of the plants in the Green Swamp benefit from periodic burning; pond pine’s cones burst and release seeds after being exposed to very high temperatures and wiregrass flowers vigorously after a fire. Longleaf pine seeds need bare ground to germinate and plenty of sunlight to grow, typical traits of plants that evolved in a landscape with frequent fires."

Fellow CA member Skip Pudney got the chance to photograph a burn in action. A scheduled burn in the Green Swamp along Hwy 211 took place on February 1st. He was able to capture images showing the intensity of fire. Two days later while on a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC I stopped along Hwy 211 to shoot the afterburn.

The woods were blacken with charcoal, and appeared dead. I know as spring arrives in a few short weeks Nature will heal the charred landscape into a rich greenery of plants unique to the savanna. This year I will catalog the progress through the seasons of change in the Green Swamp Savanna…after the fire.



Kimberli said...

Ack! The pictures aren't showing up. They do in other posts, but not this one.

Kelvin Taylor said...

I think I fixed it. The images were linked from my photo gallery. Now I have embedded the images from my puter.

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