See the Effects
See how the saltgrass has grown back just 10 short weeks after the pasture was burned.
By Clay Carrington
On March 4, 2009, The Nature Conservancy of Texas conducted a prescribed fire on the Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve in Matagorda County. The successful burn was witnessed and assisted by representatives from other Conservancy programs and international conservation organizations interested in seeing firsthand how fire is used as a land-management tool.
These visitors included representatives from Mexico’s National Forestry Commission, National Commission of Protected Areas, the Environmental Agency of Tamaulipas and the Institute of Applied Ecology at the University of Tamaulipas. They were joined by staff members from The Nature Conservancy’s Mexico Program. Staff from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department assisted with the burn, as did four representatives from Texas’ Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. They were accompanied by visiting officials from two Chinese protected areas, Xianghai State Natural Reserve and Heilongjiang Zhalong National Natural Reserve.
Although widely used throughout the United States as a conservation tool, controlled burning is not commonly used in Mexico. Environmental officials in Tamaulipas are interested in learning more about the use of prescribed fire in their region, which closely mirrors the ecology and biological diversity of South Texas.
The visiting Chinese officials were studying how controlled burning might benefit red-crowned cranes, an endangered species found in Eastern China that is closely related to North America’s whooping crane, which winters along the Gulf Coast at Mad Island Marsh and just a few other places.
Conservancy burn crews from Texas conducted the controlled burn on 220 acres at the preserve, where similar burns are scheduled every two to three years The fires keep invasive species at bay and promote healthy coastal grasses needed by the myriad species found on the 7,043-acre preserve. Harboring native saltgrass prairies and home to more than 250 native and migratory bird species, Mad Island Marsh is one of the most biologically diverse places in Texas.
These fires keep invasive species in check and promote healthy coastal grasses needed by the myriad species found on the 7,043-acre preserve. As home to more than 250 native and migratory bird species, Mad Island Marsh is one of the most biologically diverse places in Texas. The Conservancy uses prescribed fire throughout Texas and in the past year has conducted controlled burns on preserves and privately owned land totalling more than 12,000 acres.