HOUSTON (KIAH) If you see fire or smoke in the sky near the IH 610 West Loop in Houston today, Monday, Feb. 27, don’t panic. This is one fire that’s suppose to happen.
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, in partnership with the Houston Fire Department (HFD) and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) will conduct a prescribed fire in the meadow area of the center. That’s in the eastern portion of the nature sanctuary, which is located near IH 610 West Loop and Woodway Drive.
HFD and Arboretum team members have undergone extensive training and meet national wildland firefighting and incident management standards and will oversee public safety.
It begins first, by monitoring the weather. If there’s any condition that concerns the teams, the prescribed burn will be halted. If all is working according to plan and conditions are favorable, then the Ignition of test fire for a prescribed burn will take place.
Then from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. the burn will occur at the Houston Arboretum
9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.– Briefing and weather monitoring
Noon. – Ignition of test fire for prescribed burn
2 p.m. – Burn is finished
WHERE: Houston Arboretum, 4501 Woodway Dr., Houston, 77024
The last prescribed burn in March 2022 also focused on the meadow area. However, a later burn date, meant more for spring growth and less dry winter vegetation, and heavy rains a few days before burning, resulted in incomplete coverage of the area. Officials say burned areas did exhibit higher vegetation diversity, greater biomass, and less undesirable and invasive vegetation coverage compared to areas that were not burned. With this year’s burn, the Arboretum is hoping for greater coverage of burned areas and the same positive impacts for the native vegetation as the previous year.
The goal of these long-term use of prescribed fires will help the Arboretum maintain its historic ecosystems, which will in turn increase biodiversity, provide environmental education opportunities, and preserve gulf coast prairie and savanna, both endangered ecosystems that are essential for native wildlife. Officials believe that healthy grasslands, like those found within the prescribed burn area, are better able to absorb and filter flood waters during flood events. Grassland birds, like quail and northern harrier hawks, need fire to maintain open habitat for nesting and feeding.
For more information and updates about the Arboretum’s controlled fire, go to https://houstonarboretum.org/prescribed-fire/
For information on Wildland Fire Management and prescribed fire please visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/wildland_fire_management/