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Fire in Florida's Forests

This program may be scheduled for any age group and requires at least two weeks of advance notification due to limited center staff and volunteer availability. Participants in this program must be able to tolerate walking on loose sand soil for a distance of no less than .5 mile in the climate typical to the time of year in which the program is booked. Water, bug spray and sunblock are recommended. The length of this program is three hours.


The use of fire to manage Florida’s forests has been in practice for over 50 years. While fire may seem dangerous, it is essential to the future health of Florida’s plants and wildlife. Careful use of regular prescribed fire allows land managers to clear brush and return nutrients to the soil. Prescribed fires prevent wildfires, perpetuates our wildflower blooms and maintains habitat for some rare and endangered Florida animals. Students in this program will learn about the pyric plant communities of Florida, how prescribed fire is controlled and how it benefits our natural communities.

Pre-visit recommendations:

  1. Review terms:
    • Wildfire: an uncontrolled fire in an open land area generally caused by abundant fuels and careless actions.
    • Prescribed fire: a fire purposefully set, with permission for a specific reason, create available nutrients, clear out overgrown vegetation or some other objective.
    • Succession: A natural process by which one plant and animal community changes into another
    • Pyric: regulated by fire
    • Fuel: any burnable material (in this case plants)
    • Fragmentation: the splitting of a large land area into multiple smaller units usually by roads, homes, etc.
  2. Review the fire triangle: fire requires three things in order to burn
  3. Review the history of the use of slash and burn farming


  • PowerPoint slide show on prescribed fire
  • Introduction to some of Florida’s pyric plants
  • Demonstration on “fuels” and how they burn
  • Demonstration of equipment used in a prescribed fire and technique
  • Guided hike to view zones and look for evidence of fire
  • Group activity on succession
  • Review and evaluation

Post Visit:

  • View time-lapse videos online of prescribed fire areas
  • Review the life history of the Florida scrub jay or American kestrel and their dependence on the right habitat and regular fire
  • Read the smoky bear story and activities at