Prescribed burn 122 acres around Okefenokee Swamp

USFWC Fire Southeast plans to set controled fires Friday

Photo by Bobby Knight

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service Fire Southeast plans to set the woods around the Okefenokee Swamp on fire Friday.

This prescribed burn of 122 acres is designed to reduce the fuel load in the pine flatwoods that surround the swamp.

Why do these burns take place?

According to the USFWC Fire Southeast, “Frequent fire is necessary to maintain the open nature of the iconic longleaf pine-wiregrass habitat. Longleaf seeds that germinate in the bare, mineral-rich soil left behind after a burn.”

These prescribed burns can also help trees release their seeds and feed certain animals. The endangered Key deer of Florida will actually feed on the fresh tufts of vegetation that emerge after the landscape is burned.

What steps are taken before the burn?

Safety first always. The USFWC Fire SE specialists will consider the following before the decision to burn, including weather, wind speed, nearby roads and communities, time of the year, and more when determining the right time and place for a prescribed burn.

The following is a checklist that’s used for a safe and effective burn.

  • Complete Prescribed Fire Plan
  • Prepare fire breaks
  • Assemble equipment and trained crew
  • Check conditions: air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, moisture of vegetation and soil
  • Notify local emergency personnel and neighbors
  • Set test fire to confirm conditions
  • Conduct burn with constant supervision
  • Secure perimeter
  • Monitor until the fire is completely out

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