The Florida Forest Service is planning a 10,000-acre controlled burn this week.
The prescribed burn was initially set to start Monday in Goethe State Forest, but was postponed until Tuesday due to heavy rains that blanketed the area over the weekend.
Levy County drivers should expect road closures over the next 72 hours, Wildlife Mitigation Specialist Ludie Bond said.
The intersections of U.S. 19 and State Road 121; State Road 121 and County Road 337; and County Road 336 and County Road 40 will be blocked off during the burn. The Tidewater Trailhead and Apex Trailhead will also be closed.
Bond asks drivers to use caution when traveling near the forest area with wind gusts blowing smoke into the roadways south of the forest. Smoke plumes will be visible for two-to-three days, depending on the weather, while helicopters and ground crews work with the fires.
Prescribed burns are set years in advance on a rotating schedule, according to Bond, and usually cover two-to-three thousand acres of land. The Goethe burn will span 10,000 acres, the largest burn in the forest’s history and the largest to be conducted in the district this week.
The burns, which are conducted while the trees are still in their dormant stage, improve forage for wildlife and livestock, return nutrients to the soil, help control plant diseases and reduce buildup of dry and flammable plant materials, according to the Florida Forest Service.
In addition to its vital role in Florida’s ecosystems, prescribed fire helps keep citizens and homes safe by reducing wildfire risk,” State Forester Jim Karels said.
The burn is occurring during Prescribed Burn Awareness Week, which runs from Jan. 25 to 31.