Feb 16, 2023 - News

Ask Axios: What's happening at A.D. "Doug" Barnes Park?

Palm trees with dark gray and black burned trunks

The aftermath of a controlled burn at A.D. "Doug" Barnes Park. Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Jamet

If you've visited the 65-acre A.D. "Doug" Barnes Park off of Bird Road recently, you might have noticed these charred trees.

  • An Axios reader sent us this photo, asking what's going on at the park named after the first director of Miami-Dade County's Parks and Recreation Department. So we dug into it.

What's happening: Jenny Stern, natural areas manager for the county park system, told Axios that her department conducted a prescribed burn across about four acres of the park's pine rockland, which was permitted by the Florida Forest Service.

Why it matters: Pine rocklands are "the most critically endangered habitats" in Miami-Dade, Stern said.

  • "Without fire, we would lose our pine rocklands to other successional habitat types," she explained.

Context: Pine rocklands are found only in South Florida and the Bahamas. The forest habitat once took up 186,000 acres in Miami-Dade but today, less than 2% remains outside of Everglades National Park, according to Tropical Audubon.

  • The habitat is home to endangered species like the Eastern indigo snake and Florida bonneted bat. It's the only place in the world with plants like milk pea and milkwort.
  • The habitat is dependent on fire, which causes pinecones to disperse their seeds and reduces exotic plant species.
  • When lightning does not ignite fires naturally, burns are prescribed every two to seven years.

Of note: Stern said her department sends out a newsletter every six months to neighbors of preserves where burns take place, and calls people on the day of a burn if they request it. Local schools are also notified.

What we're watching: Four environmental groups are suing the National Park Service in an effort to protect pine rocklands habitat in another part of our metro.

  • The groups allege NPS skipped steps in a review process that paved the way for Miami Wilds, a water park planned next to Zoo Miami that contains the dwindling habitat, Miami Today reports.

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