Prescribed Burn Planned for Apalachicola River WEA Marsh

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As it did in this 2003 photo, the FWC will use a helicopter to conduct the prescribed burn. Sometime between Aug. 18 and Sept. 5, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct a prescribed burn on 9,700 acres of marsh north of Apalachicola.

The area is part of the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA).  The last prescribed burn occurred in 2003.

Derek Fussell, an FWC wildlife biologist, said the burn is necessary for several reasons.

“For one thing, fire burns off the dead and rank grass in the marsh.  That has happened naturally for thousands of years, but because of people, houses, roads and other considerations, we now have to pick our times carefully to use fire,” he said.    

“Another big benefit from the burn is it kills or suppresses hardwoods and nonnative plants from gaining a foothold.  It also reduces the fuel load and prevents catastrophic wildfires, which can, and do, happen.”

As in the past, Fussell said the FWC is working closely with the Florida Division of Forestry and Department of Environmental Protection and takes into account National Weather Service information.  The burn will take place when the correct environmental conditions occur, including a southerly wind and necessary humidity.

FWC staff posted notices on all houseboats in the maze of creeks and tributaries in the designated burn area advising boat owners of the burn.

Fussell said the burn is done quickly with the use of a helicopter and a DAID (Delayed Action Ignition Device) machine, which is an ignition-distribution method for setting a fire line from the air.

The burn is expected to be finished in one day.