LIVE OAK, FLA., JANUARY 29, 2024 – Due to its importance in maintaining natural resources and reducing the risk of wildfires, the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) recognizes this week as Prescribed Fire Awareness Week to bring awareness to the benefits of prescribed fire for land management.
“Prescribed fire is a necessary and beneficial tool that helps improve the health of our District lands and also creates a safer environment for the community by decreasing the chance of wildfires through fuel load reduction,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the District.
Prescribed fire helps facilitate overall ecological restoration by enhancing native upland and wetland vegetation and improving habitat for native wildlife. Prescribed fire is also used to reduce fuel levels in the forest to help lower the intensity of possible wildfires. Other benefits of controlled burns include plant disease control, soil nutrient restoration, and aesthetic improvement.
Burn seasons are divided into dormant season and growing season. Dormant season consists of fall and winter months, while growing season includes spring and summer months. Each burn area is given a burn season prescription depending on weather conditions, fuel levels, and the burn objective for the area.
On average, the District targets approximately 8,000 to 10,000 acres to burn each year, which is dependent on conditions and weather. Prescribed fires must be approved by the Florida Forest Service prior to any burn and rely on favorable conditions to be conducted. District prescribed burns are announced on the District’s website and via the Land Management notification system.
Prescribed burns are typically marked by light grey smoke, indicating the presence of a slow-moving, controlled fire. Good fire (prescribed fire) helps decrease the likelihood of damaging wildfires.
The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. Headquartered in Live Oak, Florida, the District serves 15 surrounding north-central Florida counties.
For more information about the District, visit www.MySuwanneeRiver.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.