SFWMD, FWC, USACE, Florida Forest Service conducting prescribed burn on Lake Okeechobee today

BUCKHEAD RIDGE – Crews from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Florida Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will burn up to 7,000 acres in the northwestern area of Lake Okeechobee today (march 2). This is part of the ongoing effort to restore the ecology and habitat of the lake.

The burn, which will start around noon between the Pearce Canal and Indian Prairie Canal on the northwest shores of Lake Okeechobee, is the first prescribed burn conducted on the lake since 2016.

“Fire is a crucial part of the natural cycle for Lake Okeechobee,” said SFWMD Bureau Chief for Land Resources Rory Feeney. “This prescribed burn will help reduce plant biomass and stimulate habitat renewal for thousands of wildlife species that call the lake home. The District would like to thank our state and federal partners for collaborating to help conduct this burn safely and with minimal impact on the communities near and around the lake.”

Prescribed burns around the shallow portions of the lake improve habitat and breeding grounds for fish, waterfowl, wading birds and other wildlife. Prescribed burns remove decaying vegetation and other debris that would otherwise cover the bottom of the lake and impede the growth of new plants.

The Forest Service will act as the lead agency for today’s burn, with SFWMD, FWC and USACE providing support on the ground and by helicopter. In order to minimize the chances of any impact to neighboring communities, the burn is being conducted during a time when weather conditions, such as prevailing winds, are suitable and expected to carry the smoke over the lake and away from homes.

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