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PROJECT AIMS TO REDUCE WILDFIRE HAZARDS AROUND WEST TEXAS COMMUNITY

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Jan. 29, 2013 – FORT DAVIS, Texas – Texas A&M Forest Service firefighters next week will begin removing potentially hazardous vegetation around the Davis Mountains Resort in an effort to reduce risks facing the wildfire-prone community.

Beginning Monday, Feb. 4, state firefighters will use chainsaws and other hand tools to create a shaded fuel break along local roads that are used as evacuation routes during emergencies. Local firefighters will assist with traffic control in the areas where crews are working.

Breaks are used to help stop or slow down wildfires by removing the vegetation, which serves as fuel for the fire. A shaded fuel break often is constructed in a forested area, where trees are thinned and pruned but retain some canopy. Such a break can help keep surface fires from spreading into tree tops, which increases fire intensity.

“This project will help create a safer working environment for firefighters in the event of a wildfire,” said Phillip Truitt, a wildland urban interface specialist with Texas A&M Forest Service. “And if a fire did occur, the fuel break would provide a means of egress for Davis Mountains Resort residents.”

Nestled in far West Texas, the Davis Mountains Resort area is no stranger to wildfire. In April 2011, it was threatened by the Rockhouse Fire, which was deemed one of the largest blazes in state history after it scorched more than 300,000 acres in Jeff Davis and Presidio counties.

Less than two months later, the 12,000-acre Tejano Canyon Fire threatened 200 homes in the Davis Mountains Resort. Wildfire threatened the scenic area once again in May 2012 when the Livermore Ranch Complex burned charred more than 23,000 acres.

Community residents began working with Texas A&M Forest Service a couple of years ago with a goal of becoming Firewise, a national designation bestowed on communities that actively work to reduce wildfire risks. To earn Firewise status, communities must assess the hazards in their community, form a committee, develop an action plan and hold a community work day.

Media Advisory: A Media Day allowing reporters a chance to get an up-close look at the equipment and work being done is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Davis Mountains Retreat Campground off Tomahawk Trail. Officials with Texas A&M Forest Service and Davis Mountains Resort will be available for interviews.

Contacts:
Phillip Truitt, Wildland Urban Interface Specialist
(325) 326-2326, ptruitt@tfs.tamu.edu

April Saginor, Communications Specialist
(979) 458-6619,
asaginor@tfs.tamu.edu