The Future of Fire
In the past six months, Superintendent Fred Boyles has taken some encouraging steps toward restoring fire to Cumberland Island. First, the park funded and supported a historical fire regime study that will help
determine the role of fire on the Island. Second, the park has funded and intends to hire a fire management officer with a background in fire use and planning. That position is currently being recruited.
A dedicated fire management officer will enable the park to manage wildfire more wisely, naturally, and responsibly on Cumberland Island, especially in the wilderness. Lightning-ignited fires may once again be allowed to burn, as long as they don’t threaten any dwellings. A few small prescribed burns also may be used initially to assure island residents that the National Park Service can safely protect their homes from wildfires.
Boyles explains that the Willow Pond fire that occurred last summer came before any of these changes could be implemented, and so it was handled in accordance with the 2004 fire management plan.
We applaud Superintendent Boyles and the National Park Service for moving the park’s fire policy in a positive direction.