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W. G. Jones State Forest uses Fire as a Management Tool

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Uploaded on Mar 4, 2011

If you want to experience an urban wilderness, visit W. G. Jones State Forest in Conroe, Texas. This video is one in a series about the forest.

Today's video highlights the use of fire for habitat restoration. Most firefighters are responsible for putting fires out, but Texas Forest Service firefighters also start fires to help the forest and its occupants.

Fire is a natural component in many ecosystems. It is integral to the function and biodiversity of numerous habitats. Organisms in these habitats have adapted to withstand and exploit natural wildfires.

Unfortunately, campaigns in the United States have historically molded public opinion to believe that wildfires are always harmful. This view is outdated and incorrect. Fire suppression, in combination with other human-caused environmental changes have resulted in unforeseen consequences.

In an effort to restore the balance in the pine forest ecosystem, fire is commonly used as a management tool to restore the habitat and increase wildlife. On the Jones State Forest, fire is used primarily to control understory plant species that could impact the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Fire eliminates mid-story vegetation which predators might otherwise use to access woodpecker nesting cavities. Controlled "prescribed burns" also reduce the likelihood of uncontrolled and disastrous wildfires.

Stay tuned. An upcoming video, in the series about Jones State Forest, will focus on Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. This bird is only one of two woodpecker species protected by the Endangered Species Act. The other species in the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (which is assumed extinct). Jones State Forest is home to about 10 Red-cockaded Woodpecker family groups.

Photos and video clips:
* W. G. Jones State Forest Archives
* Richard Adams, Texas Forest Service
* Ken Kramm, Texas Master Naturalist Volunteer, Heartwood Chapter
* Ivory-billed Woodpecker by Arthur Allen (1935), public domain

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