Everglades Prescribed Burn Generating Significant Smoke

EVERGLADES (CBSMiami) — It’s day two of a prescribed burn in the Everglades. Thirty-one thousand acres of land are being burned in order to decrease the chance of wildfires.

According to the National Park Service, the burn has gone well but it is generating significant smoke. Late Wednesday night, officials say residents of Homestead or south Kendall are likely to see smoke and possibly some light ash from the fire.  This is not unusual and should not cause concern.

Prescribed burns are used regularly in resource management at Everglades National Park to refresh the ecosystem by stimulating new growth.

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.

“This is an important fire operation as much of this area hasn’t been burned since 1960’s,” explained Fire Management Officer Rick Anderson. “In the Everglades, long unburned areas such as this can create wildfire risks to the public. This fire will reduce the potential for significant wildfire in the future by reducing  fuel (old vegetation).”

Prescribed fires are only conducted when weather permits.

This 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.

Crews are using 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.

(©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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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