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Nikki Fried’s Real Record on Sugar Cane Burning

Nikki Fried is the only candidate endorsed by the Democratic Environmental Caucus.

“We made a decision that Nikki offers us the best path to ensure that Ron DeSantis is a one term Governor and have witnessed her work on Environmental Justice in communities of color and has been vocal about holding accountable polluters who will not act responsibly on their own.”

Community Reactions To Commissioner Fried’s Leadership

“Consistent with what we’ve come to expect from Commissioner Fried, I’m thankful she has taken such a proactive, detailed, and balanced look at a practice that is an integral part of our state’s toolbox,” said County Commissioner Karson Turner of the Hendry County Commission. “These changes construct a delicate balance of all the resources that make up and impact the communities we call home. These burns are integral for that balance.”

We appreciate Commissioner Fried’s initiative and commitment to review and strengthen the prescribed burn program to ensure it remains a safe and effective tool for agriculture, wildfire prevention, and forestry management for our communities,” said Mayor Steve B. Wilson of Belle Glades.

“Commissioner Fried is taking decisive action to improve our communities,” said Janet Taylor, President of Glades Lives Matter and a former Hendry County Commissioner. “These improvements take our population growth into account for the first time in thirty years, and Commissioner Fried is saying loud and clear that our lives matter – we thank her for that.”

“As Commissioner Fried promised, these redrawn zone boundaries and new prescribed fire certification will help reduce the risk of wildfire while maintaining good air quality,” said Mayor Joe Kyles of South Bay. “I appreciate Commissioner Fried’s and the Florida Forest Service’s commitment to these improvements and safer Glades communities.”

History

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees the Florida Forest Service, whose mission is “to protect and manage the forest resources of Florida, ensuring that they will be available for future generations.” The Florida Forest Service oversees one of the most advanced prescribed fire programs in the country.

What is Prescribed Fire: Prescribed fire in Florida, is used to reduce hazardous fuel buildups, thus providing increased protection to people, their homes and the forest. Other uses include disease control in young pines, wildlife habitat improvement, range management, preservation of endangered plant and animal species and the maintenance of fire-dependent ecosystems.

The Facts On Commissioner Fried Leadership

On Oct. 1, 2019 Nikki Fried announced the first major changes and enhancements to the state’s prescribed burning program in nearly 30 years.

The Phase 1 changes: 

  • Air Quality Index: Burn authorizations will now factor in Air Quality Index, a measure of environmental air quality, using 185 ambient monitors at 95 monitoring sites statewide
  • fiResponse: A state-of-the-art software system will be implemented to provide better real-time information for wildfire emergency responders, and more user-friendly fire maps for the public
  • Smoke Plume Prediction Tool: Major updates to the Forest Service’s smoke plume prediction tool are being implemented, to include the latest weather models

Fried also announced the following changes related to sugarcane burning, effective immediately:

  • 80-Acre Buffer: A minimum 80-acre (two field) buffer is now required between wildlands and burns in sugarcane fields on dry, windy days to reduce wildfire threat
  • No Nighttime Burning: No nighttime burns will be permitted without special approval from the Forest Service director’s office
  • Fog Advisories: On days with fog advisories, burning will be banned before 11 AM, to enhance public safety and smoke dispersion
  • Muck Fires: Landowners will now have 72 hours, reduced from 96 hours, to suppress all muck fires


On August 4, 2020 Nikki Fried announced a second phase of major enhancements to the prescribed burning program, delivering on her promise to enhance public safety, reduce smoke and ash impacts for Everglades communities, and reduce the risk of wildfires.

  • Implementation of the Florida Certified Prescribed Burn Manager Training Course for EAA burners, which will train individuals in public and private agencies and organizations that are charged with the responsibility of conducting prescribed fires.  This advanced training will directly reduce smoke impacts through smoke screening tools on all burns, and will train burners to consider fire weather parameters, map and mitigate smoke, and reduce potential community impacts.
  • Redrawn zone boundaries to better protect the public by reducing potential smoke impact to all communities within the EAA. This zone map redesign, the first major realignment since 1992, takes that population growth into account for the first time. The zones were redrawn to lessen the potential smoke impact across all communities. The redrawn zone map took effect on January 1, 2021.

Note: The original zones were drawn in 1992 when the population in the current Zone 4 was approximately 33,364. Since then, the population has grown by 67.3 percent to approximately 55,833 residents, without the zone map adjusting to account for this population growth.