News / USA

Centuries Old Trees Burn in Texas

Greg Flakus

Firefighters in Texas now have the worst fires in the state's history under control, but they are keeping a wary eye on frequent flare-ups that threaten wooded areas where many people have homes and ranches.   The fires have destroyed hundreds of homes and burned more than 1.4-million hectares of land.  Most of the fires in recent days have been in wooded areas in east and central Texas, threatening centuries-old trees.  It might take decades to restore some areas devastated by the fires.

A dark cloud is in the sky over drought-stricken Texas, but it will not produce rain.

This cloud is smoke from a fire that broke out northwest of Houston, threatening ranch land and homes. Firefighters use helicopters and planes to drop water and fire retardant on the flames, trying to suppress them as police order an evacuation of the area and residents scramble to get out.

Most will be able to return safely in a day or two. The less fortunate will return to find the charred remnants of what was once their homes.

Eric Fourniquet returned from an out-of-state trip to find his home a smoldering ruin.  But his wife and children were safe. “I am just happy and thankful that they made it out without being hurt," he said.

Forest service workers are helping him clear dead trees from his lot, but Fourniquee says he is sad about their loss as well. “I am used to the trees.  If I had to walk outside every day and not see a tree, I'd be lost," he said.

Trees have been one of the main victims in this part of Texas, not only of the fires, but also of the record drought that set the stage for the fires. Across east Texas, water-deprived trees are dying.

John Warner works for the Texas Forest Service. “Usually in a nice year, where we have rainfall in the spring, dry summer, rainfall in the fall, these trees can recuperate.  But with a drought like we are in now, these trees are really showing stress and they are not able to adapt," he said.

Warner says signs of stress include yellow and brown leaves and pine needles as well as bark falling off tree trunks. "If the bark is already sloughing off, this tree is dead.  If it has gone this far, it is beyond recovery," he said.

Warner says many such dead trees will have to be removed in the coming year for fire prevention, especially in urban areas where ecological changes have undermined the drought resistance of the trees.

"Just changing the environment the way they have by putting these homes next to the forest area, changing the way the water flows, putting ditches in, there is a lot of change going on and we are going to see that because the trees are going to start stressing out along the roadways, neighborhoods. People want to live in a forested area, but they do not take in the whole picture.  They need to leave an area large enough to sustain itself.  Sustainability is crucial," he said.

As hard as it might be for tree lovers, Warner says many people in vulnerable parts of Texas will need to remove some trees around their property and hope that steady rains return next year to save what is left of the state's forests.  

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid