Fire in Nature: Friend or Foe?

Managing a burn.

Managing a burn.

This is Passport to Texas

Throughout time, fire has been a tonic for native plant communities.

Vegetation species grow up, and they get decadent and old. And, unless they are rejuvenated, the ecosystem’s just not that healthy. And so fire has been a common occurrence in this continent and in Texas, and it’s caused us to have a varied ecosystem throughout the state.

Chris Schenk is the statewide fire program leader for the wildlife division at Texas Parks and Wildlife. He said that by the early 20th century fire suppression had become official U.S. federal policy.

We suddenly decided that fire was a real bad thing. We were moving west, and now we thought fire was an enemy. So we began a strong campaign throughout the country to put all fires out. And, in fact, even before that, when Texas had become a state, one of the early laws was it was against the law to burn grass, because grass meant income to ranchers and farmers. And so we started thinking of fire as an enemy instead of something that we needed to learn to live with.

Yet, if ecosystems depend on fire for rejuvenation, what happens when we suppress it? That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds fire management programs in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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