Here at Wetland we are working to restore, at least in some measure, the benefits of natural fire with a prescribed burn program.
Historically the natural fire return interval would have been something on the order of 1 to 5 years for most of our land, with the majority of those events having occurred during the April/May/June growing season. At this time we are applying a program of dormant season burns (winter/early spring) to reduce the build up of fuel within our pine stands. In a natural environment these fuels would not have had a chance to accumulate to the extent they have. Unfortunately the misguided fire suppression regimen that was in place for so long in Florida, actually in most of the US!, has left us with fuel loadings such that wildfires could be very dangerous. Once the fuel reduction burns have been applied sufficiently to reduce this build up we will be using growing season burns to mimic the natural fire cycle.
Worth noting is that these "fuel reduction burns" kill very little of the undergrowth. Rather they knock it back some and clean up the already dead accumulation on the forest floor. It is the "growing season" burns that will actually kill a fair portion of the undergrowth with the result being that the natural grasses and forbs can flourish among the pines as they should.
Hover over any of the pictures below for a description.
And for a much fuller understanding of the value of prescribed fire visit the University of Florida's IFAS web site by clicking here http://sfrc.ufl.edu/extension/florida_forestry_information/index.html and the Florida Forest Service Website here http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Wildland-Fire/Prescribed-Fire .