Hundreds of summer wildfires leave Texas with long road to recovery

Hundreds of East Texas wildfires have burned thousands of acres over the summer, which can lead to a long road to recovery.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 7:26 AM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Hundreds of East Texas wildfires have burned thousands of acres over the summer, which has left many places with a long road to recovery.

“In the month of August, it was our second most active month, far exceeding our normal wildfire response after 2011,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Forester Jordan Herrin.

Texas National Forest and Grasslands Forest Fire Manager James Sowell said drought indexes are at historical highs.

“The wildfires are pretty much acting accordingly. A lot of really active wildfires are out there moving rapidly and growing large for this time of year for us,” said Sowell.

The Angelina and Davy Crockett National Forests will recover relatively faster from wildfires thanks to managing prescribed burns, said Sowell. “It also makes a whole lot less resource damage out there as far as the recovery standpoint going forward.”

Sowell said prescribed burns help national forest ecosystems become fire-adaptable. “It makes for a lot more resilient, healthy forest out there.”

The recovery process looks a lot different for private properties, said Sowell. “Those lands will have a heavier fuel load, which contributes to a lot more aggressive and intense fire behaviors.”

Herrin recommends that property owners get a professional forester to evaluate the forest’s health, post fire. “The more intense the fire is, the more likelihood there is to kill pine trees,” said Herrin.

Property owners have six to eight weeks after a wildfire to salvage any timber. Herrin also said being prepared can help in the long term, such as conserving soil and protecting trees from wood-boring insects.

“The fire might burn for one day, but you’ll be dealing with reforestation and trying to recover from that fire for years to come,” Herrin said.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, as of Sunday, there were 119 active wildfires.

The agency said the best time to plant new trees is from November through early spring.