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Jan. 20, 2017

The District recently hosted students from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, who learned firefighting techniques while assisting with a prescribed fire in Marion County.

Message from the Executive Director

District, partners recognize Prescribed Fire Awareness Week

Each year, the District joins other agencies, local governments and private land owners across the state in recognizing Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, scheduled this year for Jan. 22–28. The District again this year will recognize this valuable land management tool.

Conducting prescribed fires is an ongoing practice we routinely use for fire-dependent species and to help maintain the health and variety of plant and animal life on public lands. Prescribed fires also help to reduce the risk of dangerous wildfires. Since 1993, District staff have completed 1,395 burns on 561,238 acres. Staff take great care to plan and safely conduct prescribed fires — fires that imitate nature but with less risk of property loss and more savings to taxpayers. Our team’s safety record is impressive — we’ve had no significant injuries in the history of the program and we attribute that to pre-fire safety discussions, after-action reviews, following state protocols and wearing protective gear.

Safety is a top priority in conducting prescribed fires. District land managers spend many hours training and double-checking wind and weather conditions to prepare for this task. In addition, we collaborate year-round with many partners, including other agencies and local government staffs, that builds strong partnerships and friendships in which we all benefit from sharing our expertise and manpower, not only for conducting prescribed fires, but in fighting wildfires, enhancing training opportunities and so much more. In recent days, these partnerships have included training students from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Some of our staff are so knowledgeable that they are regularly called on to assist other agencies and even other states with training and fighting wildfires. Among these talented and knowledgeable staff is Land Resources Bureau Chief Steven R. Miller, who led teams of firefighters in North Carolina to fight wildfires in fall 2016.

Thanks to Steve and our Land Resources staff for your diligent work in protecting and preserving the region’s natural resources for us all to enjoy. Keep up the great work!

St. Johns, Suwannee River governing boards approve first-ever water supply plan for north Florida

The governing boards of the St. Johns River and Suwannee River water management districts on Jan. 17 jointly approved a 20-year plan to protect the sustainability of water supplies and identify potential future water supply sources. Approval of the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan completes a four-year public process and the first-ever joint planning effort between the two agencies and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The approved plan is a result of collaboration between a multitude of stakeholders from a variety of groups, organizations and entities from both water management districts that have an interest in the region's water supply, including agriculture, commercial/power generation, environmental advocates, industrial/mining, local governments and public water suppliers.

Read more…

Birdapalooza draws crowds to Lake Apopka North Shore

Visitors to the district’s Lake Apopka North Shore should expect additional traffic this weekend, as the area will host several walking and biking tours related to the fifth annual Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival and Birdapalooza.

Read more…

Controlled burn at Orange Creek Restoration Area in Alachua County

The district conducted an 83-acre controlled burn on Jan. 18 at the Orange Creek Restoration Area in Alachua County to reduce hazardous fuel loads and maintain fire-dependent natural communities. Prescribed fire’s benefits include restoring and maintaining natural communities, reducing chances of destructive wildfires, perpetuating fire-adapted plants and animals, cycling nutrients, controlling tree diseases and opening scenic vistas.

Read more…

This week in district social media

If you aren't following the district on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, here are some of the things you may have missed this week....

  • Thanks to district staffers R.H. Davis, Robin Harrell and Teresa Monson for submitting photos this week.
  • A bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perches in a tree along the Black Creek in Clay County. Find out how public lands help protect threatened and endangered plants and animals at https://goo.gl/QjO4V7.
  • #knowbeforeyougo Winter is a great time to explore district lands, but be sure to check brochures for hunting dates specific to each property where hunting is allowed. Learn more about sharing district lands at https://youtu.be/dbPW5J3RAp0.
  • #TrailTuesday featured the district’s Moses Creek Conservation Area in St. Johns County with more than 7 miles of trails to explore through a variety of natural habitats. For directions and a trail map, visit http://ow.ly/YYbH300mFgB.
  • Shout out to the city of Eustis on its groundbreaking for the upgrade and expansion of the city’s Eastern Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is partially funded with district cost-share funds. https://goo.gl/wdbY7s
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson addressed the members of the St. Johns River and Suwannee River water management district boards during a joint meeting to consider the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan.
  • Using coquina, district crews worked to regrade a levee at the district’s Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area to help improve driving surfaces as well as combat erosion in Marion County.
  • We’re always excited to help the next generation of environmental stewards learn about the district’s work. We recently hosted a crew of 10 students from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, for a prescribed burn! These students are studying wildland firefighting and gained valuable experience working with the district at our Sunnyhill Restoration Area in Marion County.

  • The district’s Agricultural Assistance Team helps make the permitting process efficient for growers seeking permits. Learn more about the process at https://goo.gl/pMYmlv.

Water conservation tip

Save water by installing a new showerhead. Using a newer model that delivers 2 gallons of water per minute instead of an older model that delivers as high as 5 gallons per minute could cut your cost in half. Look for the WaterSense® label to ensure good performance and efficiency.

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St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
(800) 725-5922