Controlled burning may help in reversing drought effects

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "Drive down any street in Lufkin, drive down any road in Angelina County, and it seems like every other tree is dead or dying," said Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter.

That's because East Texas, much like the rest of the state, is still battling the effects of a year-long drought. With so many drought stricken trees, some officials say lifting burn bans may help the environment.

The Angelina County Agrilife Extension office says getting outside and burning dead leaves and old brush is actually a good thing.

But, not just any burning.

"A prescribed burn, one that was intentionally set with parameters and safety in effect with wet, moist soils and done at the right time, is one of the best things we can do to prevent wildfires," said Agriculture and Natural Resources Angelina County Extension Agent, Cary Sims.

Sims says dead leaves lying around provide the perfect fuel for spreading wildfires. While burning can help, officials urge East Texans to use the utmost caution.

"You know, we're still concerned, even though we've had some rain. The conditions are favorable to burn if the wind dies down. There's still drought conditions out there. We've got dead trees everywhere. If you're burning leaves in your yard or debris in your yard, make sure you stay with it," said Suiter.

Sims also recommends going outside and inspecting the trees in the yard. A dead tree can become hazardous later, so it's best to cut it down.

"If you're for sure that a tree has died, yes, we want to go ahead and remove it. It's going to start to decay, and it won't be able to stand up to wind and other factors," said Sims.

Officials plan to monitor conditions daily, deciding whether it's still safe to burn.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.