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Barnegat in Ocean County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fire: Nature’s Double Agent

Cedar Bridge Tavern

 
 
Fire: Nature’s Double Agent Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
1. Fire: Nature’s Double Agent Marker
Inscription.  
The word fire is most typically associated with destruction. However, in nature, fire is a natural ecological process that promotes growth, recycles nutrients, and helps create unique, crucial habitat that without it would disappear. Fire has shaped the New Jersey Pine Barrens for thousands of years and without it would cease to exist.

To understand the nature of fire, one must first understand its role in society and the natural environment.

Fire is harmful when:
      Fire can degrade environmental health. Extreme heat can kill benefical soil organisms and change soil chemistry. Runoff carry ash into waterways, negatively impacting fish and plants.
      Fire can threaten vegetation and wildlife. Aside from immediate injury or death, fire can also destroy habitat and decrease diversity, interrupting the food chain.
      Fire can threaten human lives and property. This includes both residents and emergency response personnel. The financial cost of wildfire combat and rebuilding afterward can be extreme.

Fire is fun when:
Fire recycles nutrients by burning dead
Fire: Nature’s Double Agent Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
2. Fire: Nature’s Double Agent Marker
vegetation, turning it into nutrient rich ash. This also thins the canopy, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor. Both of these actions help to stimulate growth.
      Low intensity fire or prescribed burning can reduce wildfire risk by consuming leaf litter and fuels that build up on the forest floor. This decreases the intensity and speed of wildfires that ignite.
      Fire can provide critical habitat by burning some areas of the forest while leaving others intact. This creates pockets of differing ecological success providing habitat for a variety of species.

Fire Adapted Species
Bracken fern takes an active approach to fire. In the fall when it goes dormant, the dead fronds stay upright, easily igniting during a fire and moving fire up the ladder, eliminating surrounding competing plants. Bracken Ferns are able to send up new shoots within days from their modified underground stems called rhizomes.

Blueberries and huckleberries grow slowly and store extra energy in their root systems, which are protected beneath the soil. After a fire, they use this energy and quickly send up new shoots which grow fast to take advantage of the reduced competition. Nutrient rich ash left behind helps speed up growth during this time.

Pitch Pines are one of the best adapted of all the fire tolerant species. Its defense strategies
Markers on Old Cedar Bridge Road image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
3. Markers on Old Cedar Bridge Road
Two markers can be found at this location. The Fire: Nature’s Double Agent marker is seen here on the left.
include:
- Thick bark to protect the living wood
- Dormant buds that emerge when needles die from fire called epicormics branches
- Dormant buds at the base of the tree if the living wood dies
- Resin-sealed cones that open after fire to spread seeds called serotinous cones.
 
Erected by Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation.
 
Location. 39° 47.014′ N, 74° 21.614′ W. Marker is in Barnegat, New Jersey, in Ocean County. Marker is on Old Cedar Bridge Road, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located across the road from the Cedar Bridge Tavern. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Barnegat NJ 08005, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Haven in the Heat (here, next to this marker); Land Between the Lines (a few steps from this marker); One in a Mill-ion (within shouting distance of this marker); Last Stand of the Revolution (within shouting distance of this marker); Historical Horticulture (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Welcome to East Jersey (approx. 0.7 miles away); Welcome to West Jersey (approx. 0.7 miles away); Affair at Cedar Bridge (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Barnegat.
 
More about this marker. Photos of Bracken Ferns, Blueberries, Huckleberries, and Pitch Pines appear on the right side of the marker.
 
Categories. Natural Features
 
Markers on Old Cedar Bridge Road image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 7, 2019
4. Markers on Old Cedar Bridge Road
 

More. Search the internet for Fire: Nature’s Double Agent.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 26, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 26, 2019, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 35 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 26, 2019, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.
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