Reserve “Scrubs” Brush and Trees to Beat Back Wildfire Risks

The Takeaway: These techniques lessen “dry wood” dangers and support wildlife.

Under dry conditions, hundreds of wildfires can strike coastal Florida in any given year. The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is lowering that risk on its 73,000-plus acres with new techniques to reduce fuel loads and restore coastal scrub habitat, which also creates better wildlife conditions.

Techniques include roller chopping, which knocks down brush and small-diameter trees while chopping shallow roots. Then mowing shears are used to cut vegetation to ground level, a step that encourages plant restoration and reduces prescribed-fire intensity by lessening radiant heat and flame heights.

The reserve conducts prescribed burns occasionally to control fire and nurture a more vibrant community for specialized and threatened species that include gopher tortoises and indigo snakes. (2017)

More Information: Integrated Coastal Scrub

Partners: Florida, National Estuarine Research Reserves, Conservation