Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership (GCPEP) Ecosystem Support Team
   Vernon Compton, The Nature Conservancy

Abstract: The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership (GCPEP) is a ten year old public/private voluntary landowner partnership that collectively manages over 1.05 million acres in northwest Florida and south Alabama, including some of the best remaining longleaf pine habitat in the world. The upland habitats on these lands require frequent on-the-ground management to implement the prescribed fires and other management activities necessary to maintain these ecological communities.In addition, many of the lands managed by GCPEP have been fire suppressed and require mechanical or chemical preparation (burn prep) before an appropriate regime of prescribed fire can be safely and effectively implemented on these lands.The majority of the managers of these lands need additional resources to support their resource management programs.Currently, the lack of an appropriately managed fire disturbance is one of the main threats facing Florida’s upland habitats and species.On Florida’s public lands and many private lands this is primarily due to a need for more dedicated resources and manpower.The Ecosystem Support Team (EST) is a land management support crew that has been established by the Nature Conservancy to serve as a supplemental crew of additional trained personnel and equipment to assist GCPEP partners with land management activities.This project proposes to provide additional support for the EST to assist GCPEP partners conduct prescribed fire and related activities within sandhill and other upland habitats on GCPEP partner lands in Florida. Fire is a natural process that is critical to maintaining the natural communities of Florida’s uplands.The Ecosystem Support Team (EST) will enhance upland ecosystem restoration on GCPEP lands by augmenting the ability of partners to increase the timely application of prescribed fire and other necessary land management techniques.These actions are expected to increase the acreage of uplands in Northwest Florida that are appropriately managed for wildlife and ultimately the populations of declining fire-dependent wildlife species. This project will provide additional financial support for the EST to conduct prescribed fire and fire-related activities within sandhill and other upland habitats on GCPEP partner lands in Florida.In addition this project will provide support for the EST to conduct mechanical (mowing, roller chopping, and/or hand felling) and chemical treatment with herbicide of overgrown areas to facilitate the safe and effective reintroduction of fire to these habitats and other necessary land management activities as time allows.The EST will serve as a supplemental crew of additional trained personnel and equipment to assist GCPEP partners with prescribed burns and other land management activities identified in partner management plans as time allows.The team will work in concert with local conservation managers, who must provide their own burn bosses, fire management plans, burn unit plans and a partial burn crew for each burn on their property. The land managers are responsible for their own burn authorizations and neighborhood notifications.

Award Matching Funds Total
$45,000.00 $45,000.00 $90,000.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2008 7/1/2008 11/15/2009

Location: Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington Counties