Wildfires are vital to the ecological health of many Central Texas natural areas. Since these natural areas are deeply valued and critical to our well-being, we must work together to become a fire-adapted community of informed and prepared citizens who collaboratively take action to safely co-exist with wildfire. Wildfires can, and will occur in Central Texas; but in a fire-adapted community, they do not have to be catastrophic.
Growth and development in Austin can increase wildfire hazards, as the population moves farther into natural areas of woodland and vegetative fuels, called the “wildland/urban interface.” Risk can also increase during dry, windy conditions.
Although the potential for wildfire to impact human life and property can’t be eliminated, we can take steps to greatly reduce the danger. To achieve the mutual goals of wildfire risk reduction and responsible stewardship of natural areas, Environmental Best Management Practicescan be implemented before a wildfire occurs. Actions can also be employed after a wildfire to prevent further damage, speed recovery and reduce future risk.
The City of Austin uses prescribed burning - the planned and deliberate application of fire as a land management tool - for many reasons.
Prescribed fire is good for:
many different types of landscapes and vegetation
improved water shed function
diversity of plants and trees
endangered species management
removal of litter, dead debris, brush, fallen trees - understory removal
reduction in available fuel for large, intense, rapidly-spreading wildfires