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Fire Damage – Davis Mountains, Texas

With the fire gone in the Fort Davis area, my wife and I were itching to get down there and see what it looked like. We planned a short overnight trip to camp in Balmorhea, as the Davis Mountains State Park still hadn’t opened yet. We didn’t have much time but were able to drive down Hwy 17 between Fort Davis and Balmorhea.

Fire damage along Rose Pass, Davis Mountains Texas

The Davis mountain area is usually very yellow and green with tall grass covering the mountains. That was not the case this day. Everywhere we looked the mountainsides were black. If you have never been to the Davis Mountains you might not realize anything was different, apart from the roadside fire damage, But my wife and I could tell, this fire had really scorched the area.

In this picture you can see the contrast between typical Davis Mountain terrain and burned terrain.
Burnt branches in the Davis Mountains

Fire Damage: Davis Mountians, Texas

What I didn’t expect to see was regrowth this quickly after the fire. Sure it has been weeks since the fire passed through certain areas, after all it was the largest fire in Texas History, but I still thought it would take more time before I saw any regrowth. Most of this region will benefit from the fire. My hearts go out to those who lost their homes or businesses, but the reality is, wild areas need fire for renewal. Wildfires remove accumulated deadwood. They open habitats to animals that require post-fire areas to forage or nest. They stimulate some plants to distribute seed, and the seeds of other plants to germinate.

Post Fire Regrowth in the Davis Mountains
Post Fire Regrowth: New plants grow among the burnt Davis Mountain Grass.

The reason the Fort Davis fire became so big (over 490 square miles) could be blamed on overly cautious fire prevention. Over time forests and other wild lands become clogged with dense growth. The fuel load on the ground builds and builds. When the land does eventually catch fire it is fueled by years of accumulated wood, is disastrously hot and violent and kills even those plants adapted for normal fires. Because of this, organizations like The Nature Conservancy schedule periodic controlled burns and forest thinning. That way if the land does (and it will) catch fire, it doesn’t get out of hand.

You can still see smoke rising from some of the recently burned areas of the Davis Mountains.

To find out more about the Davis Mountains check out the following posts:
Skyline Trail – Davis Mountains State Park, Texas
Scenic Loop – Davis Mountains
Mount Livermore
Mount Livermore first summit attempt
Christmas Tree Hunt – Davis Mountain Preserve – Texas

Related Posts:
Fort Davis – Rockhouse Fire 100% Contained – Area Trails and Parks Reopen
Madera Canyon Trail Closed Due to Fire Danger
Fort Davis Fire Photos – A Special Week in Review
Davis Mountians State Park Closed Until May 1st.
Davis Mountains Wildfire Update – April 12, 2011
Fire Destroys Parts of Davis Mountains State Park in Texas

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  • Karl

    May 10, 2011


    That's a good way to look at it. You're right, land sometimes needs fire to rejuvenate and trigger new growth. It is a shame, though, seeing the loss and destruction it caused…but as you said, there is a silver lining.


  • Rachele

    May 11, 2011

    Yes, very good point on the land needing fire for regrowth. It is a shame some structures were lost but I hope that controlled bans and fire management will improve from this experience. It's very neat to see the quick regrowth photos so thanks for including them.

  • Stew McGregor

    July 3, 2012

    That picture of post fire regrowth is amazing. That strongly depicts that there is life in every darkest corner of the earth. cleanup fire damage milwaukee

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