Green Swamp Wildfire: one year following the flames

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SUPPLY, NC (WWAY) — June 13 marks one year since a wildfire tore through nearly 16,000 acres of the Green Swamp Preserve. WWAY took a tour of that land on Tuesday, to see what the Green Swamp looks like now. Vegetation that was once covered in ash, is now showing signs of healthy new growth. 

Last year’s Green Swamp fire started after a prescribed burn by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission got out of control.  

One year later, life behind the wood line is flourishing. Venus flytraps and orchids are two of the many native plants that are now blooming. 

Deb Maurer is the N.C. Chapter Nature Conservancy’s Southeast Coastal Plain Program Director. She said this was truly the light at the end of the tunnel. 

“We knew that the fire in the Green Swamp was going to be beneficial to the swamp and to the species that the swamp supports,” Maurer said. 

When word of the Green Swamp fire first spread, it was described as a “problem” and “damaging.” Nature Conservancy’s Land Steward Zach West said the result shows it was actually “rejuvenating” to the plant community. 

“There was some overstory mortality of pond pine but in a lot of cases, the heat from the fire will open the cones. So, there will be resprouting of pond pines in the pocosin areas,” West said. 

Carmella Stirrat is the Fire Manager at the Nature Conservancy. She said she and her team have learned a lot about the Green Swamp one year following the flames. She said it’s experiences like this one that prepares them for the next. 

“We make sure to have those conversations well before a wildfire is in place and it just helps when we do have a situation, or wildfire, it just helps that relationship on the ground,” Stirrat said. 

Officials with the Nature Conservancy said this serves as a good reminder that most of the region is fire dependent, which is why prescribed burns occur in the first place.