Students Learn About Prescribed Burns

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By: Mike Springer
January 25, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Fire and heavy smoke could be seen near Fort Braden Elementary School Friday. The school is a stone's throw from the national forest along Leon County's northwest edge.

But this wasn't a forest fire. It was actually a prescribed burn done by the Florida Forest Service.

The burn helps maintain the growth of the land and acts as a learning tool for the students here.

"Some times an activity like this where they can experience it and smell it and see all the ashes falling around us and things like that allow us allow them to use all of their senses, which helps them to be able to interact with the situation," said Renee Martinello, a third grade teacher at the school.

Students from the school watched as rangers set the grassy knoll ablaze.

Within less than an hour, the landscape changed from about four acres of land covered in overgrowth to charred grass and wood.

Andy Nesmith works for the Forest Service. For him, this prescribed burn is a chance to teach children the difference between a 'good' and 'bad' fire.

"If this had been a wild fire, what would have came through here would have been a major head fire and we would have lost a lot of these younger pines," said Nesmith.

The Forest Service does the burn at Fort Braden Elementary School every three to five years.

Rangers used a mixture of gasoline and diesel fuel to do the burn. They've been doing the prescribed burn for about 10 years now at the school.

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