Photo courtesy of TCPalm.
No cause for alarm if you notice smoke rising up from picturesque Jonathan Dickinson State Park today. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a “prescribed burn”, weather permitting. Jonathon Dickinson State Park is located at 16450 S.E. Federal Highway, Hobe Sound just north of Jupiter at the Palm Beach/Martin County line.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park is 11,500 acres of land and river teeming with wildlife. Families can camp, bicycle, canoe, kayak, picnic, and more. Guided tours and rentals are available of the Loxahatchee River. Catch a glimpse of an endangered bald eagle; spot an alligator or a tortoise. Enjoy a river cruise up to Trapper Nelsons campsite.
“Prescribed burn” or controlled burn, also known as hazard reduction burning or swailing is a method used by the Department of Environmental Protection. It is used to reduce the likelihood of serious hotter fires and stimulates the germination of some desirable trees, thus renewing the park.
Another consideration is fire prevention. Here in Florida, during the drought in 1998, catastrophic wildfires burned homes. Forestry managers determined the problem was the cessation of “prescribed burns”. Leaf litter and dropped branches accumulating yearly increased the likelihood of hot and uncontrolled fires.
Today’s burn will consist of approximately 5 acres of pine flatwoods within the state park near the Trapper Nelson historical site. Trapper Nelson was a loner who came to the Loxahatchee River in the 1930’s. He lived off the land and the river by trapping and selling furs. He became famous and was nicknamed the “Wildman of Loxahatchee”. Nelson built a wildlife zoo on his land, tropical gardens, log cabins, and a Seminole Indian shelter. After his death, the state acquired his land and deemed it a historical site. This site is only accessible by water and available for tour.
The controlled burn will protect the historical site from natural fire, restore healthy forestry, natural communities and reduce dropped braches and leaf litter. For more information on prescribed burning please, visit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.