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FLORIDA PARK SERVICE RECOGNIZES PRESCRIBED FIRE AWARENESS WEEK

Florida DEP Banner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 28, 2013

CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

FLORIDA PARK SERVICE RECOGNIZES PRESCRIBED FIRE AWARENESS WEEK

~Controlled burning is an important tool for natural resource management~

prescribed burn

State Park staff conducts a prescribed burn at Rock Springs Run State Reserve in Sorrento.

TALLAHASSEE The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service is observing Prescribed Fire Awareness Week from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2. Prescribed fires mimic naturally occurring fires and can help prevent devastating wildfires. Park staff, guided by detailed plans called prescriptions, conduct prescribed burns as a regular and important part of their land management activities in state parks and trails. Prescribed fire is a safe way to apply a natural process, ensure ecosystem health and reduce wildfire risk. Many state parks and trails will be conducting prescribed burns in the coming months.

“Prescribed fire is a safe way to reduce hazardous fuels on Florida’s forest lands and prevent devastating wildfires,” said Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam. “With help from our partners, including the Florida Park Service, Florida is the nation’s leader in prescribed fires, burning more than 2.3 million acres of agricultural and natural lands annually.”

Florida habitats evolved under the influence of fire over thousands of years. Before there were roads, canals or big cities, lightning-set fires swept across Florida’s landscape. Native Americans also set fires to improve the land for hunting and gathering food.

“As a state-certified burn manager, I know that good fires prevent bad ones,” said DEP’s Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “We are proud to partner with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service as well as other public and private organizations in conducting prescribed fires that protect and rejuvenate our natural resources while also protecting our communities from wildfire.”

Fire plays a critical role in sustaining many of the earth’s ecosystems. Many of Florida’s ecosystems are fire-adapted systems that require frequent prescribed fire to maintain these natural areas in good health. Prescribed fire also protects state park neighbors from the threat of uncontrolled wildfires by reducing potential fuel for wildfires. Prescribed burning mimics natural fire cycles to restore natural communities, reduces undergrowth that accumulates over time and decreases the potential for wildfire. Burned lands experience an increase in native wildflowers, birds and other wildlife.

Prescribed fires are only conducted by highly trained and professional staff and only when weather conditions are suitable. To learn more about the role of prescribed fire, visit www.goodfires.org.