Monday, May 11, 2015

Florida Fire Mapping Now Online

Through the Florida Forest Service’s Fire Management Information System, the Okeechobee District maps out all the wildfires and burn authorizations in their area on any given day. This interactive map is available for the public to use as a reference tool for identifying smoke columns in your area. Click here for a three minute YouTube tutorial.

“This mapping system is a simple a way to measure, track and differentiate wildfires and burn authorizations,” says Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Melissa Yunas, Florida Forest Service. “This is also a good reference tool to investigate unauthorized burns and to provide education on burning safely.”

In 2015, the Florida Forest Service has investigated 20 illegal burns while conducting routine fire patrols. Out of the 20 illegal burns, 15% have resulted in wildfires that required suppression. Landowners or burners can be issued a Notice of Violation and charged for the cost of suppression if their fire escapes regardless of whether it is authorized or not.

It’s important to note that not all burns require an authorization. What type of burning requires authorization from the Florida Forest Service?

· Acreage burns. If you’re planning to burn woodlands, grass pastures, home lawns or any other large area, you need an authorization.

· Pile burns. Whether you’re burning multiple piles of land clearing debris generated on site or simple yard debris you generated while trimming trees and shrubs, if the pile is greater than 8 feet in diameter, you need an authorization.

If residents are unsure if their planned burn needs to be authorized, please contact your local Florida Forest Service. Know the law before you strike that match or lighter.

Burning is essential to Florida’s Agriculture and Land Management Communities. Ranchers/ Dairy farmers obtain pasture authorizations and accomplish burns that aid in increasing the diversity and structure of vegetation, which benefits wildlife and maintains livestock production. Citrus growers obtain pile burn authorizations for pruning and cleaning the citrus groves. Farmers burn the stubble of their crops they have been harvested; fire also enriches the soil and helps to combat disease, insects, and weeds. Land managers obtain ecological authorizations to manage their land for animal and water conservation or aesthetics.

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