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Public Meeting Planned for Bastrop County Wildfire Mitigation Projects
BASTROP – More than three years after the Bastrop County Complex Fire charred more than 30,000 acres of central Bastrop County, officials are preparing to implement projects to manage potentially dangerous wildland fuels.
Bastrop County, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will host a public meeting to discuss these planned projects and answer questions from the public on Thursday, Oct. 16 in Bastrop. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Commissioners Courtroom, second floor Annex, 804 Pecan St.
Mike Fisher, emergency management coordinator for Bastrop County, said, “We all remember the terrible devastation brought by the wildfires in 2011, and it’s our goal to take every step possible to prevent that from happening again. We at the Office of Emergency Management are very excited about future activities and plans being made by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas A&M Forest Service. We are looking forward to long-term partnerships with these fine agencies.”
Bastrop State Park, which was almost entirely burned by the 2011 wildfire, is planning to restart its prescribed fire program in order to manage the trees and brush killed by the wildfire and prepare areas for tree planting. The prescribed fires will be conducted from October through December of this year.
“We will be targeting areas that were most intensely burned in 2011,” said Jamie Hackett, Lost Pines Complex superintendent “The planned burn areas have heavy concentrations of dead vegetation that could support an intense wildfire in the future, and these areas also lack natural pine regeneration needed to replace the trees killed during the wildfire.”
Bastrop State Park conducted regular prescribed fires between 2002 and 2011. “We were making a difference,” Hackett said. “We were working to reverse the effects of more than a century of fire suppression within an ecosystem that requires periodic, low-intensity fires for its survival. Areas previously treated with prescribed fire burned with much less intensity during the 2011 wildfire than untreated areas, demonstrating the effectiveness of prescribed fires to mitigate wildfire risk.”
TPWD will be collaborating with Bastrop County’s Emergency Management officials and Texas A&M Forest Service to implement the prescribed fires in a safe and effective manner with certified wildland firefighters, while minimizing any inconveniences to the local community. While it is not possible to notify all residents of planned burning activities, TPWD routinely notifies adjacent landowners and all appropriate authorities prior to initiating prescribed fires.
Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management and the Texas A&M Forest Service are currently collaborating on a mechanical clearing fuel mitigation project on county-owned property near Camp Swift. Looking into the future, Fisher says Bastrop County is working to develop a county-wide mitigation project that aims to reduce fuels in more populated and wildfire hazard areas of the county.
“The project we envision will involve a partnership between the county and private property/land owners to reduce fuels using mechanical clearing with specialized machinery and hand crews,” Fisher said. “We invite citizens to learn about the fuel mitigation projects and give input about the current and planned projects – prescribed burning, mechanical clearing, hand crews.”
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