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‘Nature tends to survive’: Crews work to contain St. Catherine’s Island fire

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Buildings and historical sites aren’t the only things at risk as fires burn on at St. Catherine’s Island- so are all the plants and animals that live there.

The fires have certainly been a disruption- but at least for now- there are safe places for the animals to go.

“You cannot predict what mother nature is going to do,” Michael Halderson, Director of Island Operations, St. Catherine Island Foundation said.

But sometimes, the animals know better than people do.

“The animals that are naturally here- this is a process that’s been going on for thousands of years. They’ve adapted,” Halderson said.

For the most part, so have the ring-tailed lemurs that live on St. Catherine’s Island for ecological research. They know not to go into the fires- though they’ve needed a little help here and there.

“We have them in holding if we need to. There was one site we packed up because the smoke may have been bothering them, but there was nothing ever threatening,” Halderson says.

While animals instinctually know to move away from the fires, Halderson says that makes it even more important for them to keep the fires from spreading to other areas.

“The more that burns you’ve got limited area to move to eventually, so you know, making sure we kind of get that spread stopped before it eats enough of the island for the animals to suffer from the food source,” Byron Haire, Area Fire Management Officer, Area 8, Georgia Forestry Commission said.

Though the fires could be alarming for people to see, Halderson says he’s confident the animals are taking it in stride- maybe more so than people are.

“They’ve seen fires like this before. They’ll make it through. Nature tends to survive,” Halderson said.

Though there are fires still raging there are already signs of things rebounding.

Halderson says that in the oldest part of the fire, which is on the northern end of the island, things are already burned through and cooled down.

That area got just barely a sprinkle of rain for about 20 minutes recently- and there are already young grass shoots popping up through the ash.

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