Prescribed Fire for a North Central Park and its Wild Life
A prescribed fire is one of the most cost effective tools land managers can use.
And today I spoke to one park manager in North Central Florida who took me into the smoke and up close to the flames.
The smell of smoke you might have smelled in north west Gainesville might have come from San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park.
The park and its wild life were just getting a dose of medicine, from a prescribed fire.
And just as the fire is called, it's prescribed and planned.
"A lot of our natural community are very much reliant on fire," said Randy Brown, the park manager. "A lot of animals are reliant on fire and without that hot medicine, a lot of the animals and a lot of the plants will move out of there."
A group of men and women from around the country who are attending the National Prescribed Fire Training Center in Tallahassee, have traveled across the southeast to do prescribed fires just like this one.
"Of course we are following a prescription," said Ed Christopher with the National Prescribed Fire Training. "We have a plan already in place and we are following that plan to make sure that what we are doing is going to be the best thing for the environment."
Fire is also used to reduce hazardous fuels like dry brush, fighting fire with fire.
"So if there is a wild fire in this unit that we are burning today, it's not going to burn as intensely and it'll be easier to contain and control," said Christopher.
A prescribed fire is completely controlled. The first line of defense the team uses is a perimeter of soil, that will stop the fire from spreading.
San Felasco's park manager says the most dangerous part of these fires is the smoke.
"Certainly you don't want to be in that smoke and of course the danger of smoke in the high way, I75 or any road," said Brown. "We take extra care that that smoke does not get onto the roads."
The team takes into consideration what direction the wind is moving and of course the weather that day.
If you see any smoke in your area but don't see any park service trucks near by call 911 or your local parks in case it isn't a planned fire.
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