County to Conduct Large-scale Prescribed Burn at Hungryland Slough Natural Area Thursday

Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) will conduct a prescribed burn at Hungryland Slough Natural Areaon Thursday, December 6. The prescribed burn, which is planned to cover approximately 1,758 acres, will be conducted only if weather and site conditions are suitable. The final decision to burn is made daily, after reviewing the predicted fire weather forecast for that particular day and after obtaining a burn authorization from the Florida Forest Service. Due to the size of this burn, smoke may be visible over 20 miles from the burn location.

A prescribed burn is an intentional fire set under carefully controlled conditions to achieve certain land management objectives. These conditions include specific requirements for time of year, temperature, humidity, wind direction, wind speed, and moisture content of the vegetation to be burned.

The burn will be ignited in the morning hours if all of the required conditions are met, and will be completed within 6-8 hours. ERM plans to burn with a northeast or east wind direction that will send the smoke to the southwest or west, predominantly into the western portions of the Hungryland Slough Natural Area and the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area.

The primary objectives of the burns are to enhance and maintain the site’s pine flatwoods ecosystem, which is a fire-dependent community, and to reduce the possibility of a destructive wildfire that may threaten properties in the area. In addition, prescribed burning is necessary to maintain and enhance the site’s wildlife habitat.

Extensive planning has been done to ensure that the burn will be done safely and efficiently. County staff has established firebreaks in preparation of the burns. The burns will be ignited in such a way that the fire burns under control until it reaches the firebreaks, where it extinguishes itself due to a lack of fuel. Due to the large size of this prescribed burn, a helicopter will be used to assist in the ignition of the unit.

Residents in the immediate area of the burn who have respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema may want to make arrangements to be away from home on the day of the burns. In addition, when environmental managers confirm that a burn will take place, notice will be posted on the web (www.pbcgov.com/erm).