Florida Forest Service, local agencies work to educate public on annual prescribed burning

Walton County

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Ahead of cooler and drier weather, the Florida Forest Service is working to educate residents on an annual practice, prescribed burning.

They hosted a public zoom meeting on Wednesday with partnering agencies like the Forida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Park Service, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Walton County Fire Rescue and Walton County Emergency Management to share the how’s and why’s of prescribed burning as they begin to carry out the practice in Walton County.

“We want to try to educate people that what we’re doing actually is in the best benefit for the ecology and the wildlife,” said FFS Walton County Forest Area Supervisor, Walter Bowers. “What we’re doing is positive for the area.

He said the carefully planned burns are crucial for local ecosystems and wildlife, as they help to clear invasive shrubs and undergrowth.

He added that it also helps to keep local residents living near these areas safe from potentially disastrous wildfires.

“We live in an environment where there is going to be wildfires from time to time,” Bowers said. “One of the best tools we have to remedy that issue is reduce the fuel load as much as possible.”

He said the burning helps to remove fuels like dead vegetation and other undergrowth to prevent rapid intensification of wildfires.

Prescribed burning typically happens from November through February as the weather is more favorable for successful burns.

Bowers said the weather last winter was not as favorable as they would have liked so they’re hoping for better conditions this year as they work to maintain local ecosystems.

He said anyone with any questions or concerns is welcome to call the office at 850-267-8325.

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