Live Oak —
The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) uses prescribed fire or controlled burning, as it is sometimes called, as part of its strategy to maintain natural resources and reduce the risk of wildfires.
In recognition of Prescribed Fire Awareness Week 2013, Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, the District is providing information on the benefits of prescribed fire.
Prescribed fire helps facilitate overall ecological restoration by enhancing native upland and wetland vegetation and improving habitat for native wildlife. Prescribed fire is also used to reduce fuel levels in the forest to help lower the intensity of any possible wildfire. Other benefits of controlled burns include plant disease control, soil nutrient restoration and aesthetic improvement.
Burn seasons are divided into dormant season (fall/winter) and growing season (spring/summer). Each burn area is given a burn season prescription depending on weather conditions, fuel levels, and the burn objective for the area. Burn frequency for each tract of land is based on fire return intervals – how frequently those areas would burn naturally.
On average the District burns 7,000-12,000 acres per year. The District has burned 2,657 acres since October, but most of the activity typically occurs in late winter and spring. Ultimately, weather patterns determine how many acres are burned. Too much rain can make burning ineffective or even impossible. Too little rain can lead to unsafe conditions for any type of open fire. Control burns on District land is conducted only by contractors or agency personnel that are certified by the Florida Forest Service.
The District is planning on controlled burns for the following counties this year: Lafayette, Dixie, Taylor, Suwannee, Jefferson, Hamilton, Columbia, Levy, Madison, Gilchrist, Bradford and Alachua.