Ag Comm. Introduces Forestry Resolutions

January 19, 2011

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Governor and the Cabinet, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam introduced a resolution in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Florida state forest system. Beginning this month and throughout the year, the Division of Forestry at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will hold numerous special events in state forests to commemorate this milestone in Florida’s overall public land management program.

“For 75 years, Florida’s Division of Forestry has worked diligently to protect the forests of Florida from the dangers of wildland fire and to ensure our forests will be preserved for generations to come,” Commissioner Putnam said. “The Division of Forestry also plays an important role in educating the public of the value of Florida’s state forests and the steps we must take to preserve this natural resource.

In 1936, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Forestry began managing state lands with the establishment of Pine Log State Forest near Panama City. Today, more than 1,250 dedicated employees across the state work together to manage 35 state forests, encompassing more than one million acres.

Each year thousands of people visit the state forests of Florida to enjoy a multitude of diverse outdoor recreational opportunities such as hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, camping, off highway vehicle (OHV) riding and hunting. The Division of Forestry also manages the popular Trailwalker and Trailtrotter programs, which reward participants who hike and/or horseback ride in state forests.

At the meeting, Commissioner Putnam also introduced a resolution declaring the fourth week in January as “Prescribed Fire Awareness Week.”

“Florida is the most progressive state in its use of prescribed fire to manage land,” Commissioner Putnam said. “Prescribed fire is a safe way to apply a natural process, ensure ecosystem health and reduce wildfire risk.”

Prescribed fire is used to reduce hazardous fuel buildups, thus providing increased protection to people, their homes and the forest. Prescribed fire provides better forage for wildlife and livestock, returns nutrients to the soil, helps to control certain plant diseases and reduces hazardous fuel buildups.”

Florida has the most extensive prescribed burning programs in the country. There are currently more than 1,500 certified prescribed burn managers in Florida helping to prescribe burn more than 2.7 million acres of agricultural and natural lands annually.

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