The Polk County Environmental Lands Program has acquired more than 12,000 acres of diverse conservation land in Polk County – a substantial and irreplaceable part of the public’s natural heritage. However, simply acquiring land does not ensure preservation of its resources. The remaining natural systems must be actively managed.
Before there were roads, canals, modern agriculture, or big cities, lightning-sparked fires frequently swept unchecked across Florida's landscape. Over thousands of years, many native habitats evolved under the influence of fire and now depend on fire to survive. Land managers mimic these natural fires to restore and maintain healthy natural systems.
In modern times, fire has been increasingly excluded from natural lands, causing a dramatic decline in the extent and condition of fire-dependent habitats. As a result, many unique plants and animals needing these habitats are disappearing, and flammable vegetation has accumulated to unnaturally high and hazardous levels in many areas. We are actively working to restore and maintain fire-dependent habitats, and to reduce the likelihood of destructive wildfires.