Controlled burn used to restore local wildland
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Some residents in Hays County near Buda were concerned when columns of smoke appeared nearby on Friday, but fear not, it was a supervised blaze intended to restore the environment.
"Fire is, absolutely, a natural and necessary part of the process," David Croft with the Austin Water Utility said.
The tract is part of the Austin’s wildland conservation program, protecting sensitive recharge zones of the Edwards Aquifer. Burning excess deadwood and undergrowth promotes cleaner and more abundant flows into the water supply.
Invasive plants burn up and die. Native species like the Lindheimer Senna thrive.
"It is a long-term ecological process that has actually shaped this entire landscape for the past ten thousand years,” Ken Thuesen with the Austin Wildland Conservation said.
Careful planning and coordination between a several fire agencies ensures that the fire stays corralled.
"It's one of those things—I think people often think when fire goes through, that it kills everything—but it'll bounce back pretty quickly," Amanda Ross with Austin Water Utility said.
To keep the fire from spreading into areas where they don't want it to go, firefighters will burn a straight line along the edges to stop the fire from reaching any farther.
"We intend to burn about 300 acres today. And that would be quite an achievement for land management to do that in a single day with any other methodology,” Thuesen said. “It's effective both in terms of the results on the ground, in terms of achieving our restoration goals, as well as achieving it in a very cost effective way.”
Firefighters will patrol the 300 acre Little Bear Creek site for about a week after the burn to make sure there are no flare-ups.