Prescribed burn of 35,000 acres planned near Lake O

LAKE OKEECHOBEE — In an effort to manage vegetation within the seasonally dry portions of Lake Okeechobee, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Forest Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers, will conduct prescribed burns in the west-southwest areas of the lake.

On March 3 through March 5, aerial ignition burns will take place from Clewiston to Cochran’s Pass and to the Moore Haven Canal. Area residents should expect smoke impact from Fisheating Bay down to Clewiston. The area of the prescribed burns consist of approximately 35,502 acres. The actual burn acreage will depend on water level and surface fuel conditions.

Prescribed burning mimics natural fire cycles to restore healthy forests and natural communities, reduces undergrowth that accumulates over time, and decreases the potential for destructive wildfire. Burned lands experience an increase in native wildflowers, birds and other wildlife.

Prescribed fires are only conducted when weather parameters are suitable. Every effort has been made to avoid the impact of smoke to nearby residents. However, some temporary inconveniences may occur. Precautions adjacent homeowners can take:

• Bring your pets inside;

• Cover pools and hot tubs;

• Stay indoors if you have respiratory problems;

• Slow down if you encounter smoke on the road;

• Store lawn furniture in the garage to keep it clean; and,

• Close windows to prevent drift smoke from entering your home.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

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