Plano TX – Fire, smoke will be rising from Arbor Hills Nature Preserve through March as part of prescribed burn

Starting Monday afternoon, Plano Fire-Rescue and the Plano Parks & Recreation Department will team up for a prescribed burn at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. The burn will be carefully controlled by the Fire Department’s Wildland Firefighters.

FIRE ALERT – You may see a lot of smoke in the park. The burn will only be conducted under ideal weather conditions. If the weather changes today, the burn will be postponed.

The prescribed burns at the city’s Arbor Hills Nature Preserve will take place throughout February and March between noon and 6 p.m.

Kym Hughes, Superintendent of Natural Resources for the Plano Parks Department, said: “The burns are the most effective and efficient way to conserve the endangered blackland prairie ecosystem as the fire not only gets rid of accumulated thatch, it also helps reduce woody plant invasion, stimulates the growth of many native grasses and wildflowers, and exposes bare soil so the area can be successfully planted with prairie grass and prairie flower seeds. Prescribed fire will help to maintain the viability and health of the blackland prairie ecosystem in Arbor Hills.”

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve consists of three ecological areas:

Blackland prairie,
upland forests
and riparian zones.

Management of the Blackland prairie areas has consisted of large tractor mowing twice a year. This has resulted in a thick layer of thatch that reduces the amount of exposed soil necessary for prairie grass and flower seeds to germinate and perpetuate their species. It also allows invasive plant species to come in and take over the natural prairie ecosystems.

While benefitting the park property, Capt. Peggy Harrell of Plano Fire-Rescue stated that the burns in Plano will also provide real-life training opportunities for the city’s Wildland firefighters who have been trained in wildfire suppression meeting the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s standards.

The park will remain open to the public during the burns but the concrete trail on the west side of the nature preserve will be closed.

The burns will take place on a Monday through Friday schedule between noon and 6 p.m. to minimize the impact of the public’s use of the park.

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