PRESCRIBED BURNS The Florida Department of Agriculture is changing 30-year old rules related to prescribed burns in an effort towards added safety. The most recent changes impact the sugar cane industry, requiring an 80-acre buffer between wildlands and the burns when winds are high. During the pre-harvest burning process, there will be no burns at night. The Florida Forest Service regulates prescribed burns, managing more than one million acres of state forests and providing forest management assistance to more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. More rules are forthcoming and may include a possible shorter prescribed burn season.
BURMESE PYTHONS As of November, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District have removed more than 3,600 invasive Burmese pythons from South Florida’s Everglades System. FWC’s Python Action Team removed 1,000 snakes and more than 2,600 pythons have been eradicated by the SFWMD’s Python Elimination Program.
IGUANAS South Florida’s iguana population continues to explode, causing homeowners angst. The reptiles can chew through power lines and destroy sea walls. South Florida has not experienced a hard freeze in 10 years, which can help reduce the population. The Fish and Wildlife Commission has offered homeowners a few helpful solutions, including hanging compact discs on trees to scare iguanas away; wrapping trees to discourage them from climbing; installing rapid water shooting sprinkler systems; and setting traps. A bill has been filed in the Legislature that would prohibit the ownership of the invasive species.
AMERICORPS ANNIVERSARY Volunteer Florida celebrated the 25th anniversary of AmeriCorps in Florida last month. Over 1,800 corps members have worked in communities throughout Florida providing educational support, services to veterans, public land conservation and disaster response. For the anniversary celebration, Corps members, board members, staff and community leaders rebuilt a home damaged by Hurricane Michael.
VOLUNTEER CONNECT First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the launch of a one-stop platform for Floridians to engage in community service with non-profit organizations and governmental agencies throughout the state. Hundreds of volunteer opportunities will be listed on the site, which is searchable by date, location, age, populations served and issue area. To seek opportunities or register an organization needing volunteers, go here.