District partners with community for wildfire prevention event

Weather conditions direct smoke away from The Great Outdoors during a previous prescribed burn.

MAITLAND, Fla., March 10, 2017 — St. Johns River Water Management District staff recently met with residents in Orange and Brevard counties to talk about wildfire safety and how they can work together to reduce the risk of fire damage to their homes through prescribed fire. The meetings are part of the residents’ ongoing participation in the national Firewise Communities fire prevention program for homeowners.

“The benefit of prescribed fire to communities and landowners is multifaceted, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share our knowledge with residents,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “The lack of rain highlights the need to conserve water and continue placing an emphasis on prescribed fire. Water conservation is key to ensuring future water supplies, while prescribed fire reduces the risk of wildfires that are more common in dry weather. Both are critical preventive tools.”

Prescribed fire – the use of carefully planned fire purposefully set under stringent conditions to control the fire’s effects – is used by the district to control fuels that build up in natural areas, reducing the fuels that could feed wildfires.

Event attendees are residents of The Great Outdoors in Brevard County and residents of Wedgefield in Orange County. Both communities are near or adjacent to district-owned land.

During the event, district staff reviewed the prescribed burn plan for surrounding areas, how prescribed burns work and the benefits to communities. In addition to reducing chances of destructive wildfires by burning off fuels that naturally build up over time benefits also include restoring and maintaining natural communities, perpetuating fire-adapted plants and animals, cycling nutrients, controlling tree diseases, and opening scenic vistas.

Additional information about prescribed fire is available online at www.sjrwmd.com.