TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson and the Florida Forest Service are highlighting the importance and benefits of prescribed fire during Florida’s Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, observed January 22-28, 2023.
“Florida leads the nation in the use of prescribed fire as a safe and controlled way to protect the lands we love and the communities we live in,” said Commissioner Wilton Simpson. “Prescribed burns are a vital tool that protects our communities by clearing overgrowth that fuels catastrophic wildfires and our natural resources by fostering new growth to keep our forests healthy and biodiversity protected. Florida’s Prescribed Fire Awareness Week is a great reminder to all Floridians of the importance of prescribed fire and the important work that land managers across our state do to keep us safe.”
In 2021, the Florida Forest Service administered the largest and most active prescribed fire program in the nation, issuing nearly 93,000 open burn authorizations for public and private land managers to treat more than 2.3 million acres with prescribed fire. Of these acres burned, more than 206,000 were on state forest lands. Nearly half of Florida is made up of forests, the state’s top agricultural commodity. Managing these forests is essential to powering Florida’s economy, sustaining the ecosystem, and supporting the state’s infrastructure. Florida’s landscape is a fire-adapted ecosystem, depending on recurring fire to renew the forest and habitats that support native plant and animal species.
“Prescribed fire allows us to choose the conditions and areas we burn,” said Johnny Sabo, Interim Director of the Florida Forest Service. “Each prescribed fire is carefully planned and applied to forests or grasslands to support the protection of the community, firefighters, native habitats, and wildlife dependent on fire.”
The Florida Forest Service, in partnership with Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, maintains a website focused on prescribed fires in Florida. To learn more or to view prescribed fires planned in your community today, visit: WhyPrescribedFire.org.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.