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Orange County goes over 2,700 acres in prescribed burn acreage

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In fire-dependent ecosystems, fire is as nearly as important as rainfall and sunshine; prescribed fire is our most cost-effective tool for managing the lands we have purchased for water resource protection

From the St. Johns River Water Management District

The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) achieved a new milestone in July, hitting an all-time annual high of 52,289 acres of District lands receiving prescribed burns. And there is still more than a month left in the current fiscal year. The District’s previous record was 51,693 acres set in fiscal year 2008.

“Prescribed fire is a critical part of maintaining many of the fire-dependent communities on District lands, not to mention reducing the risk of wildfires,” said SJRWMD Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Prescribed fire is our most cost-effective tool for managing the lands we have purchased for water resource protection. This milestone is an impressive achievement by our Land Resources team. Thanks for a job done very well, with great care and expertise.”

Prescribed fire is the use of carefully planned fire purposefully set under stringent conditions to manage the fire's effects. Before conducting any burn, District staff ensure that wind direction and speed among other environmental conditions are correct for achieving burn goals while minimizing the impacts of smoke to the public. The Florida Forest Service (FFS) reviews each proposed burn and issues the appropriate authorization.

Periodic prescribed fires on District lands enhance the land’s environmental quality and protect its neighbors from destructive wildfires, but not without the possibility of temporary nuisances, such as smoke and ash. Many of Florida’s ecological communities are not just fire tolerant, but fire-dependent, requiring period burns to maintain their overall health and vitality. Prescribed fires help prevent wildfires by burning off fuels that naturally build up over time, while also helping to manage the growth of woody shrubs and undesirable invasive species.

This year’s prescribed burn breakdown by county is:

  • Alachua — 3,789 acres
  • Brevard — 23,550 acres
  • Clay — 1,701 acres
  • Duval — 259 acres
  • Flagler — 108 acres
  • Indian River — 13,394 acres
  • Lake — 2,550 acres
  • Marion — 1,850 acres
  • Orange — 2,722 acres
  • Putnam — 503 acres
  • St. Johns — 795 acres
  • Volusia — 1,068 acres

Benefits

In fire-dependent ecosystems, fire is as nearly as important as rainfall and sunshine. The benefits of prescribed fire include restoring and maintaining natural communities, reducing chances of destructive wildfires, perpetuating native fire-adapted plants and animals, cycling nutrients, managing tree diseases and opening scenic vistas.

The District works with the FFS and local communities through the Firewise program to educate our neighbors on the many benefits of prescribed fire. Follow the District on social media to know when prescribed burns are taking place in your area. To learn more about the District’s prescribed burn program, visit the District online at www.sjrwmd.com/lands/management/prescribedfire or follow the conversation at #RXburn #goodfire #sjrwmd.

St. Johns River Water Management District staff are committed to ensuring the sustainable use and protection of water resources for the benefit of the people of the District and the State of Florida. The St. Johns River Water Management District is one of five districts in Florida managing groundwater and surface water supplies in the state. The District encompasses all or part of 18 northeast and east-central Florida counties. District headquarters are in Palatka, and staff also are available to serve the public at service centers in Maitland, Jacksonville and Palm Bay.

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