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6,200 acre prescribed marsh burn set at southwest IRC conservation area

News6,200 acre prescribed marsh burn set at southwest IRC conservation area

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY − State water management officials are burning roughly 6,200 acres of marsh in a wildlife management area to reduce sawgrass and other wildfire fuel sources.

The process of the prescribed burn is, “just like you cut your grass.”

‘Burning the marsh’: The fire was started around 10 a.m. in the Fort Drum Wildlife Management Area in the southwest corner of Indian River County south of State Road 60 by officials with St. John’s River Water Management District and Florida Forest Service.

“We’re just burning the marsh south of 60 just like we’ve done north of S.R. 60,” said district official Doug Voltolina. We’ve done that for fuel reduction (and) wildfire mitigation.”

‘East winds, high dispersion’: Wind directions that carried smoke away from Florida’s Turnpike and other weather conditions were factors used to determine the best day to set the fires, since the area’s last burn roughly six years ago.

“We’re about one year over what we like to do,” Voltolina said.

‘Gone swimmingly’: The fire, set in part by helicopter and monitored by airboats and state fire engines is scheduled to be out around 5 p.m. Tuesday, but as Voltolina noted it was called ‘prescribed’ versus controlled for a reason.

“We try to keep it in the box,” he said, adding, “It’s gone swimmingly.”

St. Johns River Water Management District and crews conduct a roughly 6,200-acre prescribed fire on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, at the Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area in Indian River County. “We try to do this every four or five years,” St. Johns River Water Management District Land Management Specialist Doug Voltolina said. “This is to get rid of fuels for fire season and to renew the marsh for its plants and animals.”

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