SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Nikki Fried, was in Walton County on Thursday talking about the importance of prescribed burns.

The winter season is dry and windy creating potentially dangerous wildfire threats. There are still millions of trees on the ground, destroyed by Hurricane Michael, that post a wildfire threat.

Fried said managing the forests is essentially powering Florida’s economy, sustaining our ecosystem and supporting our infrastructure.

Fried said during the pandemic, the industry met the demands of rising lumber prices, paper product shortages and do-it-yourself home projects.

She said Florida was able to meet the demands, in part, by using prescribed fire.

“Florida knows the power of the prescribed fire and we are committed to continuing a practice that was established by those who came before us and is critical to the future of our state,” Fried said.

Florida Forest Service Assistant Director, Johnny Sabo, said Florida’s landscape is a fire-adapted ecosystem. That means it depends on recurring fires to renew the forests and habitats that support native plants and animal species.

To learn more about prescribed burns in your area, click here.