Texas Forest Service
The chief of the U.S. Forest Service says he expects this year’s fire season to be as active as last year, when historic fires charred hundreds of square miles in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and elsewhere.
State foresters are hoping that recent rains will limit the 2012 wildfire risk in East Texas, where drought factored in several disastrous fires last year.
The large oak tree in Margaret Kliever’s front yard has likely made it through a century of Spring storms, but it wasn’t strong enough to withstand Monday’s wind or Tuesday’s rain.
Parts of Central Texas devastated by wildfires have benefited from more than $4 million in donations and the help of volunteers rebuilding homes.
March 1 is the start of wildfire season, and firefighters this year are determined to get the upper hand after a devastating 2011.
Officials in Grand Prairie are warning that smoke could make driving hazardous on some major highways because of a prescribed burn at a park.
Experts say the 2011 Texas drought has killed about 5.6 million trees in urban areas. The Texas Forest Service offered the preliminary estimate on Tuesday.
The federal government has earmarked $31 million for Texas wildfires recovery.
The director of the Texas Forest Service says budget cuts that slashed annual state grants for volunteer firefighters by $18 million since 2009 have had “a huge impact” on fighting wildfires.
Despite seeing rain in December, the historic drought still persists. If there’s a silver lining to the drought, it’s that less grass and foliage grew in 2011, fueling the threat of wildfires in the region.
Recent rain across most of North Texas and East Texas allowed New Year’s revelers to buy and use fireworks. But the Texas Forest Service cautioned that the lifting of burn bans doesn’t mean Texans can go overboard with fireworks this year.
State foresters say we lost nearly 10 percent of the tree population.