Preventing and protecting our lands from wildfires

SO FAR THIS YEAR, more than 1,300 wildfires have ravaged our lands and forests. Florida wildfires are a real and present danger, relevant to all landowners — whether residential, rural, or agricultural. When a wildfire breaks out, the risk to loss of timber, wildlife habitat, homes, as well as animal and human lives is a very real threat. So we should all do our part in preventing and protecting our lands.

Did you know that escaped debris from burning is one of the leading causes of wildfires in Florida? The best way to prevent this is to know the regulations for when to strike a match. Burning authorizations from the Florida Forest Service are required for agricultural, silvicultural, land clearing, pile and acreage burns. On the other hand, burning authorizations are not required for yard waste, but there are several very important conditions to this rule. Depending on local, city or county ordinances, as well as meeting the required setbacks for a yard burn, you might still need authorization before you strike a match.

Remember, the best way to prevent wildfires is to know what safety regulations are in place, and follow them. Most importantly, if you’re witness to an act of arson, it’s essential to call the Florida Forest Service hotline and report it, at (800) 342-5869. For questions, you can contact your field unit, or visit


column by DON HARDEN

BIO: Donald Harden, the Relationship Manager for AgAmerica Lending, grew up in the cattle and citrus business, managing a family ranch of several thousand cattle and horses. He has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate business, and more than 20 years specializing in agricultural sales. Don has owned and operated farm and ranch supply stores, machinery auction companies, and farms. He has served as a director and on the board of the Cattlemen’s Association, as the manufacturer’s representative for ag equipment companies, and as a beef cattle specialist for a national feed company. Don has traveled across the U.S. as a sales rep, conducting seminars and fostering long-lasting business relationships. Don enjoys his work at AgAmerica, as he has never met a stranger.

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