September 27, 2010
Bronson Announces Record-Breaking Prescribed Burning Season
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced that the state has achieved an important land management milestone during the recently completed fiscal year as a record number of acres both in State Forests and on private land were prescribed burned.
In all, more than 214,000 acres in the roughly 1 million-acre State Forest system were successfully treated with prescribed burning in fiscal year 2009-2010, up substantially from the then record 160,000 acres burned by Florida Division of Forestry (DOF) personnel the previous year. And statewide, DOF authorized burning of 2.7 million acres of private and public land, up from the previous record 2.3 million acres burned a year earlier.
“These numbers are all the more impressive considering the tough economy we’ve experienced, the many regulations faced by those who have chosen to burn and the cutbacks in both public and private budgets,” Bronson said. “This activity will make Florida safer from wildfires.”
Florida has long been recognized as the national leader in prescribed or controlled burning as it is indispensible in reducing thick underbrush and eliminating dead vegetation on forest floors as a means of mitigating the spread and intensity of wildfires. Without these fuels to carry wildfire, countless acres of state land are spared the damage wildfires can cause, including the loss of valuable timber, wildlife habitat and injury and potential destruction of endangered species of plant and wildlife.
Jim Karels, Bronson’s Division of Forestry Director and a major advocate of prescribed burning, said that reducing the fuels in the forests is particularly critical today because so many new communities are being built near woods and forests.
“Because so many new and expanding communities are on the doorstep of forests, reducing the intensity of wildfires by the application of prescribed burning reduces the risk of property damage, injuries and loss of life in nearby communities,” Karels said.
Although vital to controlling wildfires, Bronson said that prescribed fire is also the most efficient and economical way to manage State Forest lands. It allows DOF personnel to improve wildlife habitat, control diseases, insects and invasive species and assist in the recycling of nutrients into the soil.
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