SCA’s Veterans Fire Corps Brings Heat to a National Wildlife Refuge in Florida

Preserving Ecosystems Through Smartly Deployed Flames

Above: SCA Veterans Fire Corps members Wesley Adams, Benjamin Pattyson, Andrew McFarland, Laren Nowell, Demetric Wade, and Ramon Delgado.

Here we have a photo of one of our Veterans Fire Corps crews all geared up and ready to go for a prescribed burn at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge last week near Tallahassee.

Here’s VFC Project Leader Wesley Adams on the subject:
“We assisted in burning 326 acres with drip torches. Lots of walking through water that was hip high at times. Plenty of vines that tangle and strangle, and wildlife to keep on the lookout for—alligators, bears, and wild pigs.

“The smoke you see in the background is a test burn to determine if conditions are as favorable as the spot weather forecast indicated.

“This was the first burn conducted on this part of the refuge in well over thirty years. Prescribed burning is an excellent strategy for managing lands on this refuge and many others. It reduces leaf litter to bare mineral soil, creating room for native plants like the long-leaf pine to germinate, and gets ground vegetation down to levels consistent with that of a healthy forest ecosystem. In the case of St. Marks, that ecosystem will go on supporting endangerd species like the Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

“Next time we’re out, I’ll try to make sure we get an “after” photo of the crew as well. Lots of mud and sweat is the main difference.”

This is the first time we’ve had a VFC team working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a development that we’re very excited about! To learn more about how we’re connecting returning veterans to conservation service opportunities on publics lands all over the country, head here.

Thanks to Wesley for the field report, and to the whole crew for the essential work they’re doing!

Special thanks to The Batchelor Foundation and The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation for supporting all of SCA’s work in Florida, and to The French Foundation for supporting our Veterans Fire Corps!