Pine Rockland Forest at Sunset

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South Florida's Pine Rockland Forest is a disappearing habitat. They are a sign of relatively high ground, which is why they were one of the first habitats colonized when Florida became a destination. Although some of the pine rocklands are protected, much of it disappears every year as developments sprawl into the unprotected portions of the Everglades. And the damage is two fold: pine rockland habitat that is simply in the vicinity of new developments will often change into hardwood forest, because the developments don't want fires nearby. Periodic fires are necessary to maintain pine rockland. The fires help the pine cones germinate, and also kill young hardwoods that grow faster than the slash pines. In my opinion, these pine rockland forests are most beautiful at sunset. The setting sun silhouettes the slash pines, drawing attention to their odd shape. They are often so thin, with the leaves bunched so close to the top, in what I can only assume is a method of surviving the brush fires that sustain their habitat.

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