Athens Review, Athens, Texas

December 10, 2013

Prescribed burn planned for Purtis Creek State Park

From Staff Reports
The Athens Review

Athens — Park Superintendent Mendy Davis announced the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff plans to conduct a prescribed burn at Purtis Creek State Park sometime during the months of January - April.  The burn is expected to be conducted and completed in two to four days. 

Prescribed burns are used as a management tool in state parks to improve habitat for wildlife by restoring forest and prairie habitats on the park that were historically maintained by natural fires.

They are also conducted to reduce the amount of available fuels such as leaf litter, fallen branches, understory growth and dead trees that occur and accumulate naturally and from damages associated with events such as hurricanes and ice storms. 

By reducing the amount of available fuels, prescribed burns reduce the chance for a potentially destructive wildfire to occur on the park.

Park staff has already begun preparing for the upcoming burn season by clearing vegetation and other fuels from the fire breaks established around the perimeter of each area (burn unit) that will be burned this year. 

Fuels and vegetation are also cleared away from utility poles, structures, signs and sensitive resources to protect them during the prescribed burns.  Prescribed burns on state parks are conducted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff that are trained and certified wildland firefighters meeting National Wildfire Coordinating Group standards. 

The park’s prescribed fire plan defines the conditions under which a prescribed burn may be conducted.  The plan also guides the fire crew members in managing burns to prevent them from escaping into adjacent properties and to minimize the effect of smoke in nearby residential areas.

Because specific weather conditions are required to conduct an effective and safe prescribed burn, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff cannot provide a specific date for the burn at this time. 

However, local emergency management officials will be notified before the prescribed fire is implemented. 

Mendy Davis stated that during the burn, some areas of the park would be closed to the public.  “During the burn there may be smoke that reduces visibility on neighboring roads and we caution travelers to reduce their speed and use their headlights when smoke is present,” Davis said. 

For more information regarding the planned burn or to request notification on the days when fires are ignited, contact the park at 903-425-2332 or by email mendy.davis@tpwd.texas.gov.