DEER ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - The Department of Marine Resources will conduct a prescribed burn on a 41-acre section of Deer Island on Friday. The burn is part of a process to replenish the island's pine tree population that was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Katrina.
Eventually, the DMR will work with the U.S. Forest Service to plant about 2,000 pine trees to replenish the eastern part of Deer Island.
"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."
Crews will ignite fires between 10 a.m. and noon, and the burn is expected to last about four hours.
"The prescribed fire is planned in preparation for replanting Slash pine," Robertson said. "Burning off the dense, grassy understory will reduce competition and give the pine seedlings a greater chance of survival."
Officials are urging visitors to avoid the eastern part of the island for at least a week after the burn because of falling trees.