Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Park are conducting a cross-boundary prescribed fire this week in South Florida. So far they have completed 30,000 acres. Everglades is continuing ignitions today and tomorrow, April 4 and 5, 2019.
The south Florida National Parks often ignite prescribed fires with a helicopter-mounted device that drops plastic spheres which ignite after hitting the ground. It’s called a Plastic Sphere Dispenser, or PSD. Much of what the parks burn is vegetation over standing water. If the sphere lands in water it may not ignite the vegetation, but every sphere does not have to be successful.
The burn pattern in the photo below illustrates the paths of several helicopter flight lines. The direction of spread is being determined by a wind blowing from left to right.
When the PSD was first developed several decades ago it was called an Aerial Ignition Device, or AID. When acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, became a serious health issue, firefighters dropped the AID label and renamed it Plastic Sphere Dispenser, or PSD.
The Long Pine Key Fire, which started on April 10, has burned about 4,709 acres in Everglades National Park in south Florida. It started near Long Pine Key Campground and with 20 mph winds quickly spread through pine rocklands and prairies south of the Main Park Road. It has threatened several park resources and structures and reduced visibility on roads.
A portion of the fire is burning in an area recently treated with a prescribed fire. The reduction in fuels benefits firefighters, making the fire easier to control.
As of April 12, the Main Park Road is open. There is a 2-mile section of the Main Park Road towards Flamingo where cars are being escorted by Law Enforcement rangers. Royal Palm and Flamingo Visitor Centers are open. Research Road and the Nike Missile Base remain closed.
Everglades National Park Fire Management personnel conducted the HID West prescribed fire on January 23. The objectives were to consume dead and decaying vegetation, to release nutrients that promote new growth, and improve habitat.