Most of us grew up watching Smokey Bear commercials that stressed how destructive fires were to forests and wildlife. Thanks to recent research in fire ecology we are now realizing that many plant and animal species actually thrive when fires regularly burn through their habitat. We also know that in places like Big Bend National Park, fire is a normal part of a healthy natural environment. Based on that understanding, the National Park Service, like most land management agencies, has radically changed its policy on fire management and fire suppression.
Restoring Fire in Big BendWe will always have fires in Big Bend. We have learned that our original policy of total fire suppression not only made drastic changes in the local ecosystem, it also led to a hazardous buildup of dead wood and brush.
The new policies and attitudes towards fire management will restore and reinvigorate Big Bend's plant and animal communities to more natural conditions. Proper fire management will also enable us to more easily contain future fires that threaten human life, property, and precious resources.
Did You Know?
The Johnson store and home at Johnson's Ranch was the largest adobe structure in the Big Bend in the late 1930's. It was from this building that Elmo Johnson ran his sucessful trading company and managed the Army Air Corps landing field on his property. More...