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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs