News / USA

    Centuries Old Trees Burn in Texas

    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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora