31 Jan Fire on The Bayou | Burning The Marsh Helps Restoration
Did you know burning the marsh helps restoration? If you see fire on the marsh, don’t be alarmed, it could be helping. The Louisiana marsh has a triple threat against it: sea levels rising, erosion, and subsidence that robs coastal Louisiana of about an acre every hour. You may be wondering, why would we burn it? Recent research is showing that the Gulf Coast’s long-standing tradition of controlled marsh fires boosts the health of wetlands and helps in the fight against land loss.
Research has found that regular burns reduces relative sea levels rising by about a third. One scientist tested burned and unburned sections of McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge near Port Arthur, Texas. This part of Texas is also retreating at a rapid rate and they are losing between 15 and 45 feet of marsh each year. The Marsh that went under prescribed burning on a three or five year cycle offset annual elevation deficits by a millimeter. This is significant for Marsh Conservation.
These burns can strengthen marshes and boost wildlife abundance. Parts of the marsh that underwent burning had thicker and greener grasses and hosted a great number of sparrows and other birds. The fire is actually getting rid of the old dead stuff and letting new growth take place.
The makers of Tabasco hot sauce burn half of the 30,000 acres of marsh that they own each year and they have been burning long before now. However before, it was to catch muskrat. You should know that all human-set fires aren’t beneficial. If the fire burns too hot or too long, it can actually damage the land and increase land loss.
Here at Marsh Buggies, we support the fires! We love the Louisiana Marsh and understand what a crisis our land has been under for so long. If you would like to learn more about our conservation efforts, please click here.