Resource managers at Rookery Bay Reserve protect habitat and sustain native biodiversity.
One of the primary tools used by the stewardship department is prescribed fire. Fire is not only a method for reducing non-native species, but it also is a significant factor in maintaining habitat value for wildlife and species diversity within plant communities. Fire controls successional processes in South Florida pine flatwoods and pine/cabbage palm/oak assemblages. In addition, fires recycle nutrients to the soils, induce seed dispersal and germination in many native plants, and remove understory that can fuel dangerous wildfires that threaten residential areas.
Resource managers are also tasked with managing invasive plants and animals. Species not native to this area can critically degrade natural processes within an ecosystem because they do not have the natural checks and balances (diseases, pests, climate factors, predators, etc.) found in their native habitats. The most problematic non-native species at Rookery Bay include Brazilian pepper, air potato and feral pigs. Money and human resources (staff and volunteers) are perpetually necessary for fighting these unrelenting nonnatives through physical, mechanical, chemical and other removal methods in order to help native wildlife thrive in the Florida environment.
Other activities undertaken by the stewardship department include marine mammal response, land acquisition, habitat and hydrology restoration, listed species protection, cultural resource monitoring and public access management.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.