Starting this Sunday, you may see smoke and fire at the San Angelo State Park. Please be aware that this is a planned burn, not a wildfire.

San Angelo State Park Superintendent Kurt Kemp announced today that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff plans to conduct a prescribed burn at San Angelo State Park sometime during the months January through March. Tentatively, it may be planned for the week of January 11-17, 2015 but is dependent on the weather. The burn is expected to be conducted and completed in two to three days.

Prescribed burns are used as a management tool in state parks to improve habitat for wildlife by restoring forest and prairie habitats on the park that were historically maintained by natural fires.  They also are conducted to reduce the amount of available fuels, such as leaf litter, fallen branches, understory growth and dead trees that accumulate naturally and from storm events.  By reducing the amount of available fuels, prescribed burns reduce the chance for a potentially destructive wildfire to occur.

Park staff already has begun preparing for the upcoming burn by clearing vegetation and other fuels from the fire breaks established around the perimeter of each area (burn unit) that will be burned this year. Fuels and vegetation also are cleared away from utility poles, structures, signs and sensitive resources to protect them during the prescribed burns.

Prescribed burns on state parks are conducted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel who have undergone training and met national wild-land firefighting certification standards. The park’s prescribed fire plan defines the conditions under which a prescribed burn may be conducted, taking into account wind speeds and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, and fuel moisture levels. The plan also guides the fire crew members in managing burns to prevent them from escaping into adjacent properties and to minimize the effect of smoke in nearby residential areas.

Because specific weather conditions are required to conduct an effective and safe prescribed burn, TPWD staff cannot provide a specific date for the burn at this time.  However, local emergency management officials will be notified before the prescribed fire is implemented. Kemp stated that during the burn, some areas of the park would be closed to the public. During the burn there may be smoke that reduces visibility on neighboring roads and Kemp cautions travelers to reduce their speed and use their headlights when smoke is present.

For more information regarding the planned burn or to request notification on the days when fires are ignited, please contact the park at 325-947-2687.