Santa Rosa residents may notice heavy smoke over Pensacola tomorrow. Don't be alarmed.

The Northwest Florida Water Management District is conducting a prescribed burn in Escambia County on Thursday, March 28, weather permitting.  Crews will burn approximately 338 acres within the Perdido River Water Management Area, northwest of Pensacola near Saufley Field.

The Districtís burn-certified land managers will conduct this burn, with help from Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership and other local and state agencies. Although every effort will be made to ensure that smoke will not affect roadways, drivers should exercise caution in case smoke does lead to reduced visibility on the areaís roads.

Prescribed fire is an effective and efficient land management tool used to restore and protect natural resources. Prescribed fires, which mimic naturally-occurring fires, reduce wildfire risk, enhance native vegetation and improve wildlife habitat.

The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership (GCPEP) is a public/private voluntary landowner partnership that collectively manages more than 1 million acres in northwest Florida and south Alabama. The 11 partners include the Department of Defense (Naval Air Station and Eglin Air Force Base), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Forest Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Longleaf Alliance, the National Park Service, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, National Forests in Alabama, the Nature Conservancy, Nokuse Plantation and Westervelt Ecological Services.

The District owns and manages more than 200,000 acres to conserve and protect water and natural resources throughout Northwest Florida. The Perdido River Water Management Area consists of more than 6,000 acres along the Perdido River and Bay, protecting wetlands and forested uplands within the Perdido watershed.