Media Release

Earth Day Countdown - Wildfire Mitigation

Saturday, April 17, 2010 9:00 AM

5 Days until Earth Day.

Driven by the County Commission's Guiding Vision, everyday is Earth Day in Alachua County.  In April, each day leading up to Earth Day (April 22), the County will be highlighting programs, services, and strategies designed to lead Alachua County into a more sustainable future.

To view all "Earth Day Countdown" press releases on the County's Facebook page, click here and click on the Earth Day tab at the top of the page.

ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Alachua County utilizes its "Wildfire Mitigation Program" to preserve the environment and protect property.  Wildfire mitigation often means using prescribed fire or a controlled burn to remove excess fuel from forested lands.

Since January of this year, the Alachua County Department of Public Safety Wildfire Mitigation Team and the land management staff of the Alachua County Forever Program have used prescribed fire on approximately 475 acres of County-owned land.  This area includes Alachua County Forever sites, County Parks, and the new Alachua County Fairgrounds and Resource Recovery Park site.  

"More prescribed fire means less wildfire." said Jeff Bielling, Wildfire Mitigation Officer.    

Prescribed fire is the application of fire to wildland (vegetative) fuels as the environment and weather safely permits.  In addition to managing the fire, the Mitigation Team must be aware of  good smoke management, and the safety of personnel.  To keep people and place safe, they constantly monitor temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, atmospheric stability, fuel moisture, season of the year and the condition of the site to be burned.

Most of the sites that are burned by the County have not had fire on them for many years or in some cases several decades. These heavily overgrown conditions not only makes these sites vulnerable to destructive wildfire, but can adversely affect the health of the forest (such as increased vulnerability to insect attack like the southern pine beetle). This also contributes to diminished habitat value. 

Chief Bailey, Director of the Department of Public Safety said, "Prescribed fire is the best fuel management and wildfire mitigation tool and generally, the most cost effective means of fuel management that we can employ in our woodlands, parks, and natural areas."

Prescribed fire maintains the biodiversity and ecological quality of Florida's woodlands and natural areas so that they function at the highest, healthiest level achievable.

Environmental benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Consumption of built-up vegetative fuels and reduction of destructive wildfire
  • Visual enhancement to areas to a more "park-like" environment (rather than overgrown)
  • Stimulation of native plants to flower and produce seed, and a generally more productive condition for plants and animals. 

Florida plant communities (the associations of plants and animals that make up particular ecosystems like pine flatwoods, sand pine scrub, or sandhill) have evolved around and been shaped by fire and need fire to maintain themselves and thrive. 

For more information, contact Alachua County Wildfire Mitigation Chief, Jeff Bielling at 352-264-6584.

40 Days of Change - For more information concerning events on and leading up to Earth Day, go to the University of Florida, Office of Sustainability's "40 Days of Change" website by clicking here.



If you have a disability and need an accommodation in order to participate in a County program, service or public meeting, please contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 at least 2 business days prior to the event. TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).