Controlled burn today at Orange Creek Restoration Area in Alachua County

A prescribed fire burning in the Orange Creek Restoration Area

A prescribed burn is underway today at the Orange Creek Restoration Area in Alachua County.

PALATKA, Fla., Feb. 28, 2017 — The St. Johns River Water Management District is conducting a 436-acre prescribed burn Tuesday at the Orange Creek Restoration Area in Alachua County, a mile north of the parking area on County Road 318. The purpose of the burn is to reduce hazardous fuel loads and maintain fire-dependent ecosystems.

Prescribed fire is the use of carefully planned fire purposefully set under stringent conditions to control the fire’s effects. Its benefits include restoring and maintaining natural communities, reducing chances of destructive wildfires, perpetuating fire-adapted plants and animals, cycling nutrients, controlling tree diseases and opening scenic vistas. Prescribed fires help prevent wildfires by burning off fuels that naturally build up over time, while also helping to control the growth of woody shrubs.

Before conducting a burn, the district ensures that wind and other weather conditions are correct for controlling the fire and minimizing the impacts of smoke to residents and traffic.