From the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today announced that the Florida Forest Service treated more than 246,000 acres of state forests with prescribed fire over the last 12 months, the highest number ever reported by a state forestry agency in United States history. The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, uses prescribed fire as a safe way to apply a natural process to ensure ecosystem health and reduce wildfire risk.
“I am proud that Florida is home to the most active prescribed fire program in the nation,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Prescribed fire helps keep Florida’s natural habitats healthy and protects Floridians and visitors by reducing the overall risk of wildfire.”
“Last year, we were fortunate to experience many days with conditions favorable for prescribed fire. Conditions can change quickly and drastically in Florida, so the Florida Forest Service has made it a priority to take advantage of these favorable conditions whenever they are present,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester.
Prescribed fire is an important land management tool used to reduce the buildup of flammable plant materials that fuel and intensify dangerous wildfires. The reduction of hazardous buildup results in increased safety for surrounding areas. In addition, many of Florida’s plant and animal communities are dependent on the regular occurrence of fire for a healthy existence. Prescribed fires mimic this natural process, returning nutrients to the soil, providing better forage for wildlife and livestock, and helping control certain plant and tree diseases. Prescribed fires also help preserve rare and endangered plant and animal species including the Yellow Fringeless Orchid found on the Blackwater River State Forest.
In addition to administering Florida’s prescribed fire program, the Florida Forest Service responds to wildfires during Florida’s year-round wildfire season. This year, more than 2,000 wildfires have burned more than 65,000 acres in Florida.
The Florida Forest Service manages more than one million acres of public forestland while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. To learn more about Florida Forest Service programs, visit FloridaForestService.com.