Juniper Prairie Wilderness in the Ocala National Forest is now open to the public during daylight hours after being closed for a month. The closure followed increased bear activity. Overnight camping is still off limits after a bear attacked tents in the area.
Activists have questioned the number and timing of prescribed burns, saying the loss of berries may send bears foraging closer to humans. Specialists, however, say the controlled burns are carefully planned.
“Our biologists work very closely with our state land foresters to determine what wildlife makes those forests their home and then how should we plan accordingly both with prescribed burning as well as with recreation,” said Lucie Bond, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist for Waccasassa Forestry Center.