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Shaw Wildland Support Module sustains wildlife

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cody Sanders
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Shaw Wildland Support Module and 20th Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen performed a controlled burn of approximately 285 acres at Poinsett Electric Combat Range in Wedgefield, South Carolina, Feb. 24.


The firefighters plan to burn at least 2,500 acres this year of the 12,000 acre property to help prevent destructive wildfires and rejuvenate the local ecosystem.


“The southeast United States was once covered by 90 million acres of the longleaf pine tree” said Zach Brown, Shaw Wildland Support Module assistant module leader. “What’s left right now is about 4.8 million acres.”


Brown went on to say that Shaw Wildland Management and 20th CES’s mission is to restore all of the range’s trees to the longleaf pine. 


“The range is also home to 33 clusters of the red-cockaded woodpecker, a bird on the endangered species list,” said Brown. “Historically, longleaf pines have been commonly preferred by the RCW.”


The RCW and longleaf pine tree are both fire adaptive species.


“For the birds, a controlled burn simulates a wildfire which gets rid of the ground level and mid-story trees and brush,” said Caroline Causey, 20th CES endangered species manager. “Burning the lower stories keeps predators away from the RCW.” 


Causey and Brown continued to say controlled burns have helped the woodpeckers numbers steadily increase and the bird may soon be removed from the endangered species list.