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Using prescribed fire to reduce the risk of smoke related traffic problems on I-95Author(s): Steven R. Miller
Source: In: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 163-167.
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (1.07 MB)
DescriptionIn many areas of the United States, prescribed burning near highways is considered too risky because of the potential for smoke to obscure the highway. In one area in Florida, prescribed fire is used to reduce the risks of smoke related impacts to Interstate 95. The St Johns River Water Management District manages over 400,000 acres of land. Seventy percent of those lands are wetlands, and nearly 200,000 acres of the wetlands are marsh ecosystems that require fire for their perpetuation. Some marsh acres are immediately adjacent to Interstate 95 near Cocoa, in Brevard County, Florida. Prior to 1993, the District had no formal wildland fire program and all wildland fire management responsibilities were abdicated to the Florida Division of Forestry. In the 1980's Florida suffered several severe droughts and associated wildfire seasons and as a result, the marshes next to I-95 supported lightning-ignited wildfires on several occasions because they were so dry that organic soils began to burn. These wildfires burned for weeks, resulting in prolonged smoke impacts to I-95, and even smoke-related vehicle accidents. In 1989, the Division of Forestry requested that the Water Management District participate in a program to use prescribed fire on a frequent basis, at least every third year, in an effort to reduce the risk of wildfires that could ignite the organic soil. It took until 1996 for the District to build a program capable of conducting a complex 4,600 acre prescribed burn using aerial ignition immediately adjacent to an Interstate Highway. Since that time, that area has been burned five additional times, and to date there have been no smoke-related accidents from either prescribed burning or wildfires. In fact, despite being subject to several severe droughts, the area has not supported a wildfire since managed fire began in 1996.
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CitationMiller, Steven R. 2015. Using prescribed fire to reduce the risk of smoke related traffic problems on I-95. In: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 163-167.
Keywordsprescribed fire, smoke, fire prevention
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