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Swiftmud plans burns to prevent wildfires

(ran North, South editions of Pasco Times)

The Southwest Florida Water Management District will conduct controlled burns in the district's Weekiwachee Preserve throughout January.

The scheduled, managed burns are part of routine maintenance of lands managed by Swiftmud. Burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles in a controlled situation.

The purpose is to avoid uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area's natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values, Swiftmud officials said.

About 100 acres will be burned in small, manageable units on the property, which is just west of U.S. 19.

"It will be done in 10- to 12-acre blocks. If you try to do too much, you get too much smoke," said Swiftmud spokesman Mike Molligan.

"We are going to try to do it whenever the weather conditions allow. We will try to get it done as quickly as we can."

Efforts will be made to ensure that smoke will not affect homes or roadways, but drivers should use caution if they encounter smoke.

The 10,000-acre property is part of Swiftmud's approximately 300,000 acres of environmentally sensitive and water resource-related lands that were acquired through the state's Save Our Rivers and Preservation 2000 programs.

For information, call Swiftmud at 796-7211.

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