JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Recent smoky areas of forests on fire have been intentionally set for a wide range of benefits. Prescribed Fire Awareness Week is taking place January 24-30 to highlight how burning overgrowth helps natural resources and reduces the risk of unwanted wildfires later.
By the end of spring NE Florida dries out and wildfires historically increase. This season we will have extra dead vegetation from a dozen freezes fueling the blazing potential.
Land managers commonly prescribed fires to promote tree growth, recycle nutrients back to the soil and minimize the spread of pest insects and disease.
The Florida Forest Service treated more than 246,000 acres of state forests with prescribed fire in in 2017, the highest number ever reported by a state forestry agency in U.S. history.
The winter offers better weather for prescribed burns compared to summer. During our summer thunderstorm season the winds can be too erratic.
Better conditions often exist for several days after the passage of a cold front that has brought 1/4 to 3/4 inch of rain. These conditions result in more predictable fire spread with steady winds, low relative humidities, and cool sunny days.
Forest fires caused by lightning once played a major role in forming and maintaining much of Florida’s palmetto-pine flatwoods, sandhills, scrub, prairies and wetlands ecosystems. Many species of wildlife benefit greatly from fire.
As development takes over, streets and neighborhoods fragment many natural areas making prescribed burning more difficult.