Prescribed Burn on 319

The first-ever prescribed fire for a highway median in Florida has been approved. The burn is expected to benefit the planted forest, but it will also affect travelers next week.

Three separate stretches of the median on Thomasville Road between the Georgia state line to just south of County Road 12 will be burned this upcoming Tuesday, weather permitting. The prescribed burn is the result of a partnership between private landowner Kate Ireland and the state.

Lane Green, the executive director for Tall Timbers, says, "In an agreement with the Department of Transportation that she signed saying that they would replant the medians with fire-type vegetation. She would pay for it and in return that they would allow the medians to be burned."

Forestry officials say fire is necessary for the growth of some grasses and other vegetation, and it reduces fuel loads that could otherwise lead to more dangerous fires. Plus, the whole process will not cause a lengthy inconvenience.

Ken Weber, Forestry Operations Administrator, says, “It should only last for about four or five hours. It's a total of 10 acres, if we have good, clear conditions. There could be residual smoke, which is basically some stumps or larger debris that will be burning. That could burn a couple of days."

Green and Weber say to be on the lookout if you're traveling through the area next week.

Lane Green says, "Be aware that there is an activity happening, and when you pass it they'll have Florida Highway Patrol involved, reducing speeds, and the inside lanes will be blocked off."

After that the natural beauty will return to plain sight. Weber says that about 12 firefighters, two fire engines and one piece of equipment will be on site to keep a close eye on the burn.