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.