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Forest Service reduces wildfire risk, improves forest health with controlled burns

LUFKIN, Texas, January 27, 2021 – The National Forests and Grasslands in Texas will conduct controlled burn operations in the next few months. The controlled burn areas will be marked with signs as needed to include signboards and electronic road
signs. Those near national forests may see smoke columns, reduced visibility in low lying areas, and additional traffic along Forest Service roads.

“The public may see a helicopter overhead, smoke columns rising, and smoke settling in low-lying areas at night,” said National Forests and Grasslands in Texas Fire Management Officer Jamie Sowell. Controlled burning dramatically reduces the chances of a wildfire spreading out of control, and burning underbrush promotes new growth of tender vegetation beneficial to wildlife such as deer, turkey, and birds. Controlled burning protects subdivisions, businesses, and transportation corridors from potential wildfires.

“Our primary concern is for the safety of the public,” said Sowell. “We want the public to know whatwe’re doing when we conduct burns in the national forest. These are controlled fires conducted by experienced, qualified firefighters who work as a team to ignite, monitor, and ensure the fire stays within the established control lines.”

The Forest Service only burns when environmental conditions are most favorable based on weather forecasts from the National Weather Service.
For those with respiratory problems, we recommend they close windows and ventilate their homes by using the air conditioning or heating system. Some may want to leave the area until the smoke clears. We encourage anyone sensitive to smoke to contact the local Ranger’s District Office to provide information so we can notify you in advance of planned burns in your area. If drivers encounter smoke on the road, they should reduce their speed and use low beam lights to become more visible to other traffic.

Controlled burns benefit wildlife habitat by removing dead and dying vegetation from the understory, which improves the availability of forage and the quality of browse for wildlife. Reducing the underbrush improves foraging, brood, and nesting habitat for turkey, quail, deer, and other wildlife species.

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