CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It’s something in the air, and no, it’s not love. It’s a fiery heat, and no, it’s not passion. It’s the fires burning grass over on Padre Island National Seashore.
Big Thicket National Preserve fire management crews were out in the grasslands setting fires on Monday. Yes, setting them, not putting them out. In fact, fire management doesn’t necessarily put them out. They let the fires naturally put themselves out and if they need to, they will contain them.
Fulton Jeansonne, the fire management officer, said setting fires reduces the impact that a fire would have in the area. He said there might be dry weather conditions, but the timing is perfecting because of the birds in the area.
“The ground nesting birds, which settle in in the spring, start nesting by March-ish and so we’re trying to avoid birds nests that are nesting in the grass,” Jeansonne said.
He said less visitors during this winter season along with good weather conditions for firefighters is why they chose to start setting fires in February.
Kelly Taylor, the public information officer for Padre Island National Seashore, said before they started setting intentional fires, normally lightening would naturally cause a wildfire every three to five years, but by setting controlled fires every two years, they’re easier to manage.
“That’s going to protect our infrastructure such as the Novillo Line Camp here at the visitor’s center, the headquarters area as well as our maintenance yard and even the turtle lab,” Taylor said.
She said the fires would allow nutrients to return back to the soil and then grow grass for nearby animals.
“If you look at the thatch where the grass is, animals can’t get in there and do their thing. They can’t nest, they can’t run from predators,” Taylor said.