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Agency plans LBJ Grasslands burns

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

Smoke from controlled fires could be visible in Denton County

U.S. Forest Service fire management specialists will be conducting controlled burns on the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands during the next few weeks.

Although the grasslands are located in Wise and Montague counties, smoke could become visible miles away in Denton County. Each burn usually lasts no more than a day, said Ernie Murray, spokesman for the forest service.

“They schedule them in increments and over small acreages,” Murray said.

The Forest Service will burn only during favorable weather conditions, making it difficult to predict the exact days of the burns.

“A lot depends on the weather — it may be too windy, or not windy enough, or the wind is blowing the wrong direction,” Murray said.

Humidity levels matter, too. Sometimes the area can be too dry to risk a burn; other times it is too wet for a burn to be successful, he said.

The burns will control Eastern red cedar and reduce other fuels on the ground, creating a temporary inconvenience for better fire control over the long term, officials said.

Moreover, controlled burns help promote new growth of tender vegetation that is beneficial to deer, turkey and other wildlife.

The LBJ Grasslands are northwest of Denton and include more than 38,000 acres.

Drivers who encounter smoke on the road are encouraged to reduce speed and use low-beam lights to become more visible to other traffic. People with respiratory problems may want to leave the area until the smoke clears.

In announcing the plans, officials also cautioned hunters, horseback riders and others visiting the area for recreation to be aware of their surroundings. Controlled burns are monitored by experienced teams that make sure the fire stays inside prescribed boundaries, officials said.

For additional information, call Fire Management Officer Scott Fry in Decatur at 940-627-5475.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.