SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. - A few times a year, people may notice state forests and parks on fire. Most of the time, it's what's called a controlled prescribed burn. In conjunction with Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, the Florida Forest Service worked to educate visitors and residents about the benefits.
"This is one of the main tools we use to help with management of our state forest here," said Walter Bowers, the Forest Area Supervisor for Walton County.
FFS highlighted the benefits of a prescribed burn on Wednesday, demonstrating one firsthand.
"Everything we have to burn, we have a burn plan for so we have to follow what we've set in place many months before we burn," said Bowers.
With more than 15,000 acres in Point Washington alone, officials say they try to burn around 3,000 a year. It gives not only the environment but the animals within it a fresh start.
"After a fire, it looks like - you know - the ground's decimated and people say well what do they eat?" said Kelli Herrick, an FWC biologist. "That's actually where a lot of the more nutrient rich mass comes up which is just so important for them."
Most importantly, the burns help reduce build-up of flammable plants which can fuel wildfires. Officials monitor the fire to make sure it doesn't spread and watch as new life is born from the ashes.
"This area needs fire," said Herrick. "These animals need fire. And not doing that is going to do way more harm than good."
Florida Forest Service only burned about four acres. They try to burn each area in Point Washington approximately every four years.
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