My barrens are burning

A fire has been raging (link to video) across some 15,000 acres of the Pine Barrens since yesterday. Aside from the worry for people and property, there needn’t be much concern for the health of the habitat as most species that grow there are fire-adapted. Some, like the pitch pine, require fire in order to reproduce. Its bark is thick and resistant to fire. After fires, many pitch pines sprout needles directly out of their trunks. In addition, pitch pine cones only open in extreme heat, so after forest fires, the trees reseed themselves.

One place that I do worry for, and for entirely selfish reasons, is the bog at Webb’s Mill (pictured here in the fall of last year). I’ve been waiting for late May and early June for the chance to see some rare plants blooming there. There are approximately 55 endangered plant species in the NJ Pine Barrens. Reasons for the dwindling numbers include introduction of aggressive non-native plants, the prevention and extinguishing of fires (a natural occurrence of the Pine Barrens), and changing the natural water flow because of farming and development.

I hope the expected thunderstorms and efforts of firefighters can control the blaze. My husband is waiting for the call from his department to go help out.

15 thoughts on “My barrens are burning”

  1. When I heard of it this morning on the news I thought of you right away. I watched the video and firefighters do a commendable job; I only hope that more residents don’t suffer… Tell DH to be careful out there.

    I also hope your bogg is safeguarded, Laura.

  2. Like Mary, I’ve been thinking about you and the fire running through some of your favorite places. Rain is on the way if it moves predictably from West to East- we’ve had two days of heavy rain here in Chicago. Hope all goes well with the firefighting.

  3. You are kidding that you have fires going on in this area! Sometimes fires are good but lets hope at one point they don’t get out of control!

  4. All fingers are crossed here for your mill.

    I was impressed when I heard about the pitch pine on a Discovery show (I think it was about Yellowstone). That’s one serious tree.

    Sending *be safe* vibes to DH.

  5. Laura–I too thought of you as I watched the news. I wasn’t sure how close this was to you, but since you have written about birding and hiking out and about in NJ, I thought it might be close by.
    Hope all goes well–that fire is only positive in its effects, that it is limited. We humans sure have screwed up the natural cycle of things that worked for eons before we butted in.

  6. It’s sad to see the destruction, but the Pine Barrens is resilient to this kind of thing. Maybe it will clear out some invasives. I just hope that the people in Ocean County are okay.

  7. I’m wishing our recent deluge toward your wonderful bog. I know so well the love of a special place and the longing to witness the much-awaited advent of bloom.

  8. It’s strange to think that a burn is perfectly natural and sometimes necessary to control and germinate many species as we humans always see it as destruction. I empathize with you though we have been dealing with the dreadful by- products of ongoing fires here in florida. Droughts and heat make for a smokey mix. Wish you the best.

  9. I too thought of you when I heard a report about the fire on the radio yesterday.

    Your understanding and attitude about fire ecology is refreshing. Most people think of all fires as disasters that need to be extinguished.

  10. So the fires are a blessing and a curse I suppose. Hope they are able to be contained before getting to the bog, and hope that your husband stays safe.

  11. Laura,

    Do you know if the fire made it to Webb’s Mill? We were just talking about that place on Sat.! I know that the area of Warren Grove, where the fire supposedly originated, is also home to the Hessel’s Hairstreak, a very rare butterfly in NJ.

  12. I thought of you this morning, when I heard the story. Just looked up the headlines and it looks better.
    We are having a time of high fire danger here, too because of the wind, but so far things have remained calm.

  13. Add me to the list of people thinking about you. I’m glad the fire is one of those cleansing types, considering its source. I’d wondered how far your home is from there and it sounds like all was well.

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