Reducing Future Wildfire Intensity
Wildfire Mitigation in Okeechobee, Saint Lucie & Indian River Counties
For the next two weeks, the Florida Forest Service will be partnering with the Florida Park Service to establish firebreaks and reduce the vegetation’s height and continuity. “On large parcels of land, you can reduce the future wildfire intensity by mowing, chopping and/or burning the overgrown vegetation,” explains Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Melissa Yunas with the Florida Forest Service.
In Okeechobee County, machines with toothed, rotating drums will grind approximately 40 acres of vegetation at the Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park. “When we conduct wildfire mitigation, we focus on the proximity of the flammable vegetation to homes,” states Yunas.
“Mitigation is essential in areas where the vegetation has grown to dangerous heights and the fire department apparatus cannot safely access the land to extinguish future wildfires.”
In Saint Lucie County, Indian River Estates residents will see a bulldozer with a metal drum knocking down and cutting up flammable vegetation in the Savannas Preserve State Park. “The flame length on a five foot tall saw palmetto can be seven to ten feet tall depending on weather.” explains Yunas, “When we chop the vegetation to the ground, the potential flame height and intensity is reduced. When prescribed fire is implemented, the wildfire risk is significantly reduced because the dead vegetation (fuel) has been eliminated by the fire.”
In Indian River County, Florida Forest Service will be providing wildfire mitigation to private residents off 13th Street SW. “This fuel reduction service is free to homeowners who qualify.” The landowners have requested to chop down the overgrown wildfire risk near their home.
The Florida Forest Service is continuously working with their city, county, state and federal partners to identify large parcels of land that can pose a significant wildfire risk to homes. Large private landowners also benefit from wildfire services that the Florida Forest Service offers.
“History has taught us that a home can survive a wildfire,” states Yunas. Residents that are adjacent to these mitigation sites are encouraged to become partners in wildfire prevention. Find out what the experts know on how to make your home, family, and yard safer from wildfires by visiting the Florida Forest Service’s website.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.
For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, please contact your local Florida Forest Service:
Martin County (772) 221-4045; Saint Lucie County (772) 468-3915; Indian River County (772) 778-5085;
Glades County (863) 674-4000; Highlands County (863) 655-6407; Okeechobee County (863) 467-3221