AUSTIN – After a successful July and August burns, Austin Water’s Wildland Conservation division plans to conduct a prescribed burn on up to 80 acres of the Water Quality Protection Lands on Thursday, September 9, 2021.
Smoke may be visible south State Highway 45 and MoPac, east of FM1826, west of Brodie Lane, and northwest of FM 1626 from 10am to sunset.
The Water Quality Protection Lands (WQPL) program actively manages more than 30,000 acres to benefit the quality and quantity of water recharging the Edwards Aquifer, which provides water to both Barton Springs and to groundwater wells in Hays and Travis Counties. Austin Water Wildland Conservation Division manages the lands.
“Conducting prescribed burns is one of the strategies used to manage these lands and protect groundwater in Central Texas,” said Luke Ball, Austin Water Wildland Conservation Division. “Prescribed burns improve the resiliency of our land when they are used as a planned seasonal management tool.”
Prescribed burns mimic the natural fire cycle in a way that can be planned and organized to limit fire intensity and can serve both natural landscapes and human communities by reducing the potential for destructive wildfires.
Prescribed fire reduces brush and promotes grasslands which provide the optimal quality and quantity of water to recharge the aquifer.
Wildland Conservation staff has seen wildflowers and native grass communities experience greater biodiversity after prescribed fires. Grassland birds like quail and northern harrier hawks benefit from open habitat, found after a fire, for nesting and feeding.
A team of highly trained professionals comprised of Austin Water staff, city and county fire departments, and federal, state, and local land management agencies ensures that safety is their primary objective.
Partnerships with agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildflower Center, the Texas Forest Service, and Travis County Natural Resources as well as coordination with the Austin Fire Department, neighboring fire departments, and emergency service districts all contribute to successful prescribed burns.
All personnel meet specific training, experience, fitness, and personal protective equipment requirements for the position they perform on the fireline.
The prescription for each fire takes into account weather conditions– including wind and past precipitation – and requires specific parameters for the burn to ensure the fire behavior will meet objectives and can be safely controlled.