News Release: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Tallahassee, FL –The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service will promote the benefits of prescribed fire during Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, January 26 through February 1. Prescribed fire plays a vital role in maintaining the health of Florida’s nearly 17 million acres forestlands and preventing devastating wildfires. Additional information is available for those interested in adding prescribed fire to their land management practices.
“Prescribed fire is a safe way to reduce brush and overgrowth that would otherwise become hazardous fuel for wildfire,” said Commissioner Putnam. “By reducing buildup of hazardous fuels with prescribed burns, we’re decreasing the risk of devastating wildfire and protecting thousands of home, business and land owners across Florida.”
The Florida Forest Service oversees one of the most active prescribed fire programs in the country. In an average year, the Florida Forest Service issues 120,000 authorizations, allowing people and agencies to prescribe burn their land. Currently, there are more than 1,600 Certified Prescribed Burn Managers in Florida that treat 2.3 million acres of agricultural and natural lands annually with prescribed fire.
In addition, many of Florida’s plant and animal communities are dependent on the regular occurrence of fire for a healthy existence. Prescribed fires mimic this natural process and return nutrients to the soil, provide better forage for wildlife and livestock, and help control certain plant and tree diseases.
“The Florida Forest Service boasts one of the most extensive prescribed burning programs in the nation,” said Jim Karels, State Forester. “Our Certified Prescribed Burn Manager program offers Floridians a unique opportunity to receive special training and certification if they are interested in the application of prescribed fire on their lands.”
In 2011, the Florida Cabinet, in partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Florida Forest Service, designated the fourth Sunday in January as the start of Prescribed Fire Awareness Week.
For those interested in adding prescribed fire to their land management practices, the Florida Forest Service developed two programs to aid those planning prescribed burns. The first is the smoke screening tool which allows persons planning their prescribed burns to plot the burn on a map and see where the smoke from the burn is going to go and if it will impact anywhere that has been designated as a 'smoke sensitive area'. The second is the live fuel moisture readings that can help those interested in prescribed burns better plan their burns.
The Florida Forest Service manages one million acres of public forestland while protecting more than 26 million acres of homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. For statewide forestry updates and information about landowner assistance programs, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com/Forestry.