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Tyler County Booster - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk Coun
ty Publishing Company

Recent wildfires close Big Thicket Preserve Turkey Creek Unit, burn 7,000 acres

Tyler County Booster

by Leann Monk,
special to the Booster

On April 16th, Hardin and Tyler Counties thought the world was on fire. That is when the “Pipeline Road” Fire started. Over 7,000 acres were burned and several firefighting agencies came together to control the blaze. Firefighters from the Texas Forest Service, National Park Service, and Volunteer Firemen worked tirelessly to contain what could have been one for the record books. Fortunately, with all of their hard work and coordination, no one was injured and no structures were lost. The only active part currently left of this massive fire is located on the Turkey Creek Unit that is part of the Big Thicket National Preserve (which sits in both Tyler and Hardin Counties). The fire is located in the creek bottom of the unit. Hand crews have been brought in from California, New Mexico and Yellowstone National Park to monitor conditions. With the high winds and dry conditions, the fire potential is extreme. The crews are on patrol for “spot” fires within the park. Some of the “hot spots” are located in areas within the Preserve that cannot be reached by dozers; so the hand crew must manually work to extinguish any new fires. Due to the elevated danger, Dave Roemer, Big Thicket Superintendent, has closed the trail to the public until further notice. If you were to drive the perimeter of the Turkey Creek Unit along Gore Store Road, you won’t believe your eyes. What used to be a thicket of underbrush and tall healthy trees is no lonlonger. Everything is charred, black and smoldering. In theory, fire is good. Fire is necessary. However, when fire isn’t controlled the outcome is damaging. The old adage says - you don’t miss something until you don’t have it anymore. Unfortunately, Southeast Texas will not be able to enjoy the beauty of the Turkey Creek Unit for some time. Nature will eventually replace what was destroyed, but it will be a while before visitors will be able to walk the boardwalks and take in the splendor of the Turkey Creek Trail again.

Polk County Publishing Company