December rolls in to the park with chilly temperatures, red berries on the Yaupon Holly trees and the start of Prescribed Fire season. Prescribed Fires are an important natural resource management tool the park uses to help stabilize the ecosystems with the park, reduce excess brush, return nutrients to the soil and encourage new growth of native vegetation. Did you know the habitats of many plants and animals also rely on periodic fire? Pine trees such as the Long Leaf pine tree, needs the stress from heat to open up its pine cones and release its seeds. With fire, the Long Leaf pine tree is able to naturally re-establish its presence in the environment. Animals like the Florida Gopher Tortoise and the Bobwhite Quail benefit as well since excess ground cover and invasive vegetation is lessened with prescribed fires.
Prescribed fires are executed with intention and a series of conditions are met before the first flame of fire even touches the ground. The park staff works closely with the Florida Forest Service to ascertain whether a prescribed fire can potentially be conducted in the park as well as getting the final go ahead on the day of to conduct the fire within the park.
Are you wondering how you can find out if there is potentially going to be a prescribed fire at the park or if there is going to be a prescribed fire a day you’re heading to the park? Sign up for the park’s “Park News” digital newsletter. You can find a link to do so on the Friends of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park’s website www.topsailparkfriends.org. For safety reasons during a prescribed fire there may be certain trails closed in the park, so please always check at the ranger station for any trail closures.
Speaking of the Friends of Topsail, their annual meeting is on Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 10:00am. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet the board members, learn about what they do and discover how you can help the organization support the park. If you’d like breakfast that day, come a little early at 9:00am and enjoy Breakfast with a Ranger. The breakfast is a fundraising opportunity for the Friends organization. Attendees that pay the suggested $5 donation are helping the organization further their mission of helping the park.
Another new thing happening at the park is the Topsail After Dark series and Kids Club. The Topsail After Dark series allows park visitors to experience the park in a whole new way, nocturnally. This series currently includes a monthly campfire on the fourth Friday of each month from 6:30-7:30pm. Come on December 27th and be regaled with the “Tales of Topsail.” In future months there will be additional nocturnal programs. Stay tuned to www.floridastateparks.org for programming updates.
There is something for everyone at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park whether you want to hike, swim, enjoy the beach, camp, volunteer or learn. So, we will see you soon!
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