Land stewardship

Today's wildlands often require care and restoration. Land managers, biologists, fire crews, and volunteers all help to ensure a healthy ecological balance in the lands and waters of the Headwaters of the Everglades. These stewards fight invasive species, replant trees, improve habitats, and add life-giving fire to the land. 


Fire

Florida is the the US capital for lightning strikes, so perhaps it isn't surprising that many of our habitats are pyrogenic. Pine forests, scrubs, and grasslands all require fire to maintain their character. Trained crews led by a Fire Boss administer prescribed fires, also called controlled burns, to maintain and restore habitats in the region.

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Invasive species

Invasive species are plants and animals introduced purposely or accidentally to a place, which have become harmful to native ecosystems or people. Due to its subtropical climate and role as a transportation hub for people and goods, Florida has the USA's most severe invasive species problem.

Biologists Lauren Elston removes the invasive Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) from near a wetland. She uses herbicide, a machete, and her hands.

Biologists Lauren Elston removes the invasive Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) from near a wetland. She uses herbicide, a machete, and her hands.

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Old World climbing fern smothers everything in its path..
— The Nature Conservancy

Monitoring

Researcher Becca Tucker monitors seasonal ponds. She checks pond depths and tracks the arrival of invasive species.

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Habitat Restoration

Biologists and volunteers are working to restore degraded habitats throughout the region. The Ridge Rangers, organized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Society, are volunteers who focus on the Lake Wales Ridge area of the Northern Everglades.

Marilyn Blair is a retired elementary school teacher and Ridge Ranger volunteer. She cuts down a sand pine in an overgrown habitat. Sand pines are native, but begin to dominate scrub areas that haven't burned regularly.

Marilyn Blair is a retired elementary school teacher and Ridge Ranger volunteer. She cuts down a sand pine in an overgrown habitat. Sand pines are native, but begin to dominate scrub areas that haven't burned regularly.

Bill Parken leads the Ridge Rangers. He is deciding on the best direction to fell the tree.

Bill Parken leads the Ridge Rangers. He is deciding on the best direction to fell the tree.

Biologist Emily Angell volunteers on her day off to help the Ridge Rangers clear Sand Pines from an area of overgrown scrub. The Ridge Rangers hope that this work will create better habitat for Florida Scrub-Jays, who may now move in from nearby family territories.

Biologist Emily Angell volunteers on her day off to help the Ridge Rangers clear Sand Pines from an area of overgrown scrub. The Ridge Rangers hope that this work will create better habitat for Florida Scrub-Jays, who may now move in from nearby family territories.