From staff reports
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff plans to conduct a prescribed burn at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway sometime during the end of October.
The burn is expected to be conducted and completed in two to three days, according to Park Superintendent Jody Lee.
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 also are conducted to reduce the amount of available fuels, such as leaf litter, fallen branches, understory growth and dead trees that accumulate naturally and from storm events. By reducing the amount of available fuels, prescribed burns reduce the chance for a potentially destructive wildfire to occur.
Park staff already has begun preparing for the upcoming burn by clearing vegetation and other fuels from the fire breaks established around the perimeter of each area, or burn unit, that will be burned this year. Fuels and vegetation also are 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 personnel who have undergone training and met national wildland firefighting certification standards.
The park’s prescribed fire 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 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, TPWD 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.
Lee 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 – during one of the last burns, smoke shrouded U.S. Highway 180 east of Mineral Wells. Lee cautions travelers to reduce their speed and use their headlights when smoke is present.