Florida State Parks Set New Record for Land Management with Prescribed Fire

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Florida State Parks Set New Record for Land Management with Prescribed Fire

Prescribed Burn

TALLAHASSEE, Fla – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service is celebrating a record year for prescribed fires burned across Florida State Parks. Prescribed fire plays an important role in protecting Florida’s natural communities and provides a safe way to ensure a healthy ecosystem while reducing wildlife risk and protecting public safety.

“I am proud of the hard work of our fire crews and park staff and their dedication to protecting Florida’s precious natural resources. Prescribed burns are crucial for Florida’s environment and reducing the risk and severity of wildfires", said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. ”Our expert fire crews consistently ensure that fires are conducted safely and in a manner that is protective of personnel, the public and the burn areas.”

In fiscal year 2018-19, the Florida Park Service applied prescribed fire to more than 96,000 acres across the state.

Prescribed burns are an important land management tool that benefits many of the 800,000 acres entrusted to the Florida State Park system. Prescribed burns are used to maintain healthy ecosystems, manage wildlife habitat, increase biological diversity, reduce hazardous fuel loads and assist in invasive plant control within these natural areas.

“Fire is a natural process in much of Florida and helps maintain wildlife habitat. The Florida Park Service is a national leader in using prescribed burns to prevent wildfire", said Florida State Parks Director Eric Draper. "We are proud of the staff and partner organizations who use science and skill to put fire on the ground at the right time and in the right place to benefit nature and people.”

Florida Park Service staff often work with partnering land managers including the Nature Conservancy, Florida Forest Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, water management districts, federal and county agencies, and local fire departments. Prescribed fires are planned, set and managed by specialized staff. The training is rigorous for prescribed burners, who are tested annually for physical fitness and trained in wildfire tactics, ecology, safety protocols, fire behavior and related issues.

Benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Maintaining the health of Florida’s fire dependent ecosystems
  • Returning of nutrients to the soil, increasing plant growth
  • Replenishing food resources for wildlife
  • Thinning of underbrush, creating open space for plants and wildlife
  • Removing of hazardous fuels such as dead plants, reducing the risk and severity of wildfires

Florida State Parks staff fill many important roles in conducting prescribed fire. From providing information to park visitors, to managing the burns and working the fire lines, staff participation helps DEP reach resource management goals. Learn more about the role of prescribed fire.