You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Jones State Forest controlled burn set again for this week

Chron logo Chron 1/27/2018 By John S. Marhshall, jmarshall@hcnonline.com
In this photo a firefighter monitors a "prescribed burn."Â Officials at Jones State Forest have been hoping to start a burn at the forest since early January, but the weather has not been cooperating. © Handout, Courtesy Of Jones State Forest In this photo a firefighter monitors a "prescribed burn."Â Officials at Jones State Forest have been hoping to start a burn at the forest since early January, but the weather has not been cooperating.

Officials at Jones State Forest are hoping Mother Nature will cooperate as they give another try at starting a "prescribed burn" in the forest.

The burn, if the plans work out, would actually be a series of small fires intentionally set in the forest over a number days to burn away brush, fallen trees and dried out vegetation that could provide fuel for what could eventually turn into larger and potentially devastating fires. The burns are also a forest management strategy to keep forests healthy by returning nutrients to the soil and allowing trees to grow in healthier and less crowded conditions.

Forest officials had tried to start a fire Thursday, but clouds rolled in and the direction of the wind changed, dousing plans to burn several acres, said John Warner, the manager of the forest.

"We tried yesterday, but the cloud cover came in," Warner said. "It's just not cooperating right now."

Warner hoped the weather conditions would be right to give another try at igniting a burn on Tuesday, Jan. 30, or the next day.

Forest officials had actually set a target dates of Jan. 11, then later on Jan. 18 to start the fires. But the weather has continually failed to cooperate. It's been nearly two years since the last burn in the 1,722-acre preserve, so Warner is not only watching the weather, but also the calendar in the hopes of getting a fire started in the coming weeks.

The window for prescribed burns generally closes some time in March as the forest starts "greening up" with new growth, Warner said. Changing weather and wind factors during the late spring can also throw cold water on opportunities to start the burns.

Forestry officials intentionally set fire to wooded areas to manage the growth of forests. The Texas A&M Forest Service, which owns and operates Jones State Forest, describes prescribed burns as "a recognized, science-based management tool" of forests.

Fires also help to restore the habitat of endangered species, which is especially critical at Jones State Forest because the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker makes it home in the forest's pine trees.

Meanwhile, as Jones State Forest officials have been stymied in their attempts to start the fires, officials at Sam Houston National Forest were able to ignite a prescribed burn on the east side of Lake Conroe Thursday.

Though Sam Houston forestry officials have to abide by the same guidelines as Warner and his colleagues at Jones State Forest have to follow in prescribed burns, because the national forest is in a more remote area officials there don't have as many restrictions in starting the planned fires.

"We're more urban so we have to very selective," Warner said.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Houston Chronicle

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon