What’s Growing On: Ecological benefits of prescribed burns

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 7:49 AM EST
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PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB) -Once spring rolls back around and lightning is in the forecast, wildfires become a major concern for our forests. Maintaining and limiting the amount of fuels on the ground is key to preventing disasters from occurring.

“Fuels are anything that burns, so in this landscape that you see behind me it’s pine needles, sticks, twigs, leaves,” Andy Rappe, the Assistant Director of the Ordway Swisher Biological Station explained.

Rappe added that the benefits of controlled burns reaches passed prevention.

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“It produces new growth for wildlife to forage on, new nutritious growth, it also cleans the forrest floor, it burns off downed woody debris and leaf litter, and once you burn that material off, it provides new areas for growth to occur,” said Rappe.

The State of Florida conducts over 2.5 million acres of prescribed fire every year.

In the year 2021, the Florida Park Service marked the 50th year of using prescribed fire as a tool to manage natural ecosystems.

“It’s important to be proud of Florida because we’re proactively burning our natural areas for ecological benefit and to reduce that wildfire risk,” explained Rappe.

Rappe says after the fire is extinguished, regrowth begins almost immediately.

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