Florida Forestry Service performing prescribed burns of Goethe State Forest

DUNNELLON, Fla. (WCJB) -- The Florida Forestry Service has started its plans for prescribed burns of more than 17,000 acres of the Goethe State Forest in Levy County.

Fire is crucial to the plant and animal life in Florida and the prescribed burns help to mimic the effects of the natural fires that would otherwise start, by doing so in a controlled environment.

Much of the prescribed burns are being done this week as crews are limited by the weather and seasonal changes. Today, the crews planned to burn 2,500 acres of forest using aerial ignition dropped from a helicopter.

"We use aerial ignition when we need to get a large amount of acreage burned at one time, or there may be an area that's very difficult to access on foot. So having the helicopters really assists us in getting a large amount of acreage burned in a very quick and efficent and safe manner as well," said Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Ludie Bond.

Fire crews say if you are traveling CR 343 and U.S. Highway 19 near the Gulf Hammock area to use caution during the overnight and early morning hours because the smoke could impact visibility.