County to see increased controlled burns before restrictions needed

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY —  Residents will be seeing more smoke columns as the dry cold fronts pass. 

Vegetation goes into a dormant state during the cold months turning the lush green into a dry brown. The cold north wind allows land managers, sugarcane farmers and ranchers an opportunity to use the north wind and lower humidity following the front to their favor. By using the lower humidity’s following the front, burning can be done effectively.

November to April marks the Dry Season for Florida. There is a brief window in these six months that allow ranchers, sugarcane farmers and land mangers an opportunity to burn before the burn restrictions could go into effect. If the winter cold fronts bring enough rain to temper wildfire conditions, and wildfire activity remains normal or below, burn restrictions may not be necessary.

The Florida Division of Forestry provides burn authorizations to land managers, ranchers and sugarcane farmers to burn for the following reasons:

Ranchers use prescribed burning to increase the diversity and structure of vegetation to benefit wildlife and maintain livestock production. Ranchers burn during the cold months in order to prepare the land for the spring and summer months.

Sugarcane farmers are concerned about the effects of the frost on their harvest. The ability of farmers to burn sugarcane is significant, burning before harvesting allows more efficient sugarcane harvesting in the field and improves sugar quality and recovery in the factory.

Land Managers who manage large parcels of land for state, county and city use prescribe fire to manage their land. The fire cleans the forest floor of leaf litter allowing new growth to sprout.

These burners are certified burners that have an authorization to burn but can be liable for suppression costs if the fires escape.

Anyone needing additional information may contact the local Division of Forestry at (772) 260-0053 (St. Lucie, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee Counties) or visit www.fl-dof.com.

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