Fuel Reduction Needed For Fire Prevention

It's been seven months since Hurricane Rita battered East Texas. Just enough time for the debris from the storm to become hazardous fuel. Now efforts are underway to protect forests, homes and entire cities from the danger of wildfire. Congressional funds designated for hurricane recovery will go toward creating fire barriers between the national forests and communities.

The fallen trees, the underlying brush, even leaves blown off trees during Hurricane Rita are creating fuel for fire. District Forest Ranger Karen Tinkle wrote the Angelina - Hurricane Rita Fuel Reduction Project. She wants to protect the communities and towns that border national forests. "Throughout the national forest we have identified about 66 communities within the Angelina National Forest. Some of the cities include Zavalla and Broaddus," said Tinkle.

Tree trimmers, chain saws, and mulchers will be used to create fuel breaks of varying degrees. Tinkle explained, "It's very important with this project we're looking at the fuels the brush areas that are behind us in creating a buffer zone between the interface of national forest and private property."

Retiree Charles Hickman likes the idea that barriers will be created along the road leading to him home,the only road in or out. "If you have an emergency of some kind, yeah you can't get out. That has to enter into it also."

The proposal also calls for prescribed burning of about 122,000 acres, more than six times burned in a typical year. The predicted hot and dry summer and fall ahead create an urgency in the project. Foresters would like to begin fuel reduction in the coming months. Before the proposal is enacted the U.S. Forest Service must hear from you. On May 15th at 5:30 at the Zavalla City Hall you may comment on the proposal. All written comments must be submitted to the Angelina Ranger District in Zavalla by May 17th.