Flagler County on Sunday (today) will continue to conduct a prescribed fire at its Bulow Creek conservation property, and residents living off of Old Kings Road South in the Bulow Plantation area may see smoke. Those living on Secretariat Lane, Steeplechase Trail, and Lexington Court may also see emergency vehicles there to monitor conditions.
The Land Management Department with the assistance of Flagler County Fire Rescue, the Florida Forest Service, the Florida Park Service, and staff from the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center will conduct the 100-acre prescribed fire between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The prescribed burn’s objectives are to reduce hazardous fuels and ecological restoration of gopher tortoise habitat.
“Fire is a natural and necessary component wildland ecology within nearly all of Florida’s ecosystems,” said Prescribed Fire Program Supervisor Michael Orlando. “It is vital to the native plants and animals, like the gopher tortoise, that inhabit the site. Also, by applying prescribed fire during favorable conditions, we reduce the likelihood and hazard level of potential wildfires. This practice is important to our habitat maintenance and wildfire mitigation practices.”
Land Management maintains about 10,000 acres within Flagler.
“Of that acreage, about 3,000 acres are ready for prescribed fire under favorable conditions,” said Public Lands and Natural Resources Manager Michael Lagasse. “We have more lands – about another 1,500 acres – that should be maintained by fire but require additional mechanical work to reduce the fuel loads before fire can be safely returned to them.”
A successful prescribed fire, sometimes also referred to as a “controlled” fire, removes the hazardous level of fuel in a given area. Unplanned wildfires have a greater risk of being destructive, because the accumulation of vegetation serves as the fuel for these hotter, faster moving fires.
“We spend a lot of time planning and preparing for prescribed burning, but we don’t make the decision to burn until the last minute,” Orlando said. “The weather has to be just right – it can’t be too windy, or from the wrong direction. Other factors such as relative humidity and dispersion index are important to our considerations too. We review the forecast for many factors and monitor them for days before a fire and throughout the day of the burn.”