WACO, TX — The Texas A&M Forest Service is conducting a prescribed burn at the Waco Wetlands on Feb. 7.
The 70 acre burn is expected to be conducted and completed in one day. TFS is monitoring weather conditions to determine the weather and fuel conditions meet prescription for that day.
The TFS Burn Boss advises that there may be smoke that reduces visibility on neighboring roads and asks travelers to reduce their speed and use their headlights when smoke is present.
According to TFS, prescribed burns are used as a management tool in natural areas and state parks to improve habitat for wildlife by restoring woodlands, wetlands and savannahs in the Waco Wetlands Area that were historically maintained by natural fires.
They are also conducted to reduce the amount of available fuels, such as cedar, willow trees, fallen branches, understory growth and dead trees that accumulate naturally and from storm events. By decreasing the amount of available fuels, prescribed burns reduce the chance for a potentially destructive wildfire to occur.
TFS staff have already begun preparing for the upcoming burn by clearing vegetation and other fuels from the firebreaks established around the perimeter of each area 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 are conducted by TFS personnel who have undergone training and met National Wildland Firefighting certification standards. The Waco Wetlands prescribed burn plan defines the conditions under which a prescribed burn may be conducted, taking into account wind speeds and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, and fuel moisture levels. The plan also guides fire crewmembers in managing burns to prevent them from escaping into adjacent properties and to minimize the effect of smoke in nearby residential areas.