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It’s OK: Deer Island is supposed to be smokin’ Friday

Deer Island underwent a prescribed burn in 2010. Another prescribed burn is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 9.
Deer Island underwent a prescribed burn in 2010. Another prescribed burn is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 9.

Where there’s smoke, there will be fire from a prescribed burn on Deer Island on Friday.

The state Department of Marine Resources is planning a prescribed burn on the island between 10 a.m. and noon, depending on weather conditions. The burn could last up to four hours, but trees could smolder for up to two days.

A 41-acre section on the eastern end of Deer Island will be burned in an effort to clear a portion of the land that has not rebounded since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Deer Island suffered mass pine mortality following Hurricane Katrina, with only 10 trees surviving on the far eastern portion of the island,” said Ali Leggett Robertson, director of DMR’s Coastal Preserves Bureau. “The depleted seed bank and isolation of this area has delayed the forest regeneration that is evident on the remainder of the island.

“The prescribed fire is planned in preparation for replanting slash pine. Burning off the dense, grassy understory will reduce competition and give the pine seedlings a greater chance of survival.”

DMR officials are asking people to stay off that side of the island for at least a week for their own safety. Dead trees will continue to give way and fall after the burn is complete.

The DMR plans to work with the U.S. Forest Service to plant about 2,000 trees to replenish that area of the island.

Kate Magandy: 228-896-2344, @kmagandy

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