Resource managers at Rookery Bay Reserve protect habitat and sustain native biodiversity.
One of the primary tools the Rookery stewardship department uses is prescribed fire. Fire is not only a method for reducing nonnative species, 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 also are 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 nonnative species at Rookery Bay include Brazilian pepper tree, air potato and feral pigs. Money and human resources (staff and volunteers) are continuously needed to fight these unrelenting nonnatives, using physical, mechanical, chemical and other removal methods to help native wildlife thriving in Florida's natural environment.
The stewardship department also responds to marine mammal issues, 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.