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(Source: National Park Service) A prescribed fire burning in the Everglades.

(Source: National Park Service) A prescribed fire burning in the Everglades.

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EVERGLADES (CBSMiami) – Don’t panic if you see smoke billowing out west over the Everglades. There’s a prescribed burn taking place where 31,000 acres of land will be burned Tuesday and Wednesday, according to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

The park’s Fire and Aviation Division will be in control of the prescribed burn in order to decrease the chance of wildfires.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, prescribed burning mimics natural fire cycles to restore healthy forests and natural communities, reduce undergrowth that accumulates over time and decreases the potential for wildfire. Burned lands experience an increase in native wildflowers, birds and other wildlife.

Prescribed fires are only conducted when weather permits.

The burn is taking place south of U.S. 41/Tamiami Trail on park lands, east of the Shark Valley park entrance and Visitor Center, and west of the L-67 canal.

Smoke will be visible but authorities don’t expect it to affect breathing or visibility.

Crews will use two fire engines from the park and one from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, two helicopters , a single-engine airtanker, and an airboat from Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

Linda Friar, spokeswoman for Everglades National Park told The Herald prescribed burns are an important part of resource management. “This particular burn is to primarily reduce the build-up of fuel that’s in this particular area. Vegetation has mounted up over time,” Friar said.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)

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