TALLAHASSEE — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service urge caution due to increased wildfire danger this spring and encourage support for prescribed fire during Florida’s Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, which is from Jan. 22 through Jan. 28. Prescribed fire is a vital tool used to reduce wildfire risk in Florida.
“We have fortunately avoided severe wildfire seasons in recent years, but Florida is no stranger to the devastating effects of wildfire,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam H. Putnam. “Dry conditions are forecasted for this spring so it is more important than ever to support measures, such as prescribed fire, that reduce wildfire risk and protect the public.”
Prescribed fire uses slow-moving, low-grade fire to reduce the brush and overgrowth that would otherwise serve as fuel for a dangerous wildfire. By using prescribed fire in an area that poses a high wildfire risk, a future wildfire in the same area will be less intense, less dangerous and easier to extinguish. Additionally, prescribed fires return nutrients to the soil, provide better forage for wildlife and livestock, and help control certain plant and tree diseases.
“Although smoke from a nearby prescribed fire may be inconvenient, it is important to remember that this brief inconvenience helps keep potentially life-threatening wildfires at bay,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester. “The safety of residents, visitors and wildland firefighters is our top priority when conducting or authorizing prescribed fires.”
The Florida Forest Service oversees the most active prescribed burning program in the nation. In an average year, the Florida Forest Service issues 85,000 prescribed burning authorizations. In addition, there are currently more than 1,600 certified prescribed burn managers in Florida that manage more than 2.3 million acres of agricultural and natural lands annually with prescribed fire.
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. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.
—Florida Forest Service
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