Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yesterday's photos of Fort Davis: even without the benefit of rain, regrowth begins

Outside Fort Davis, a cholla in a field of charred vegetation blooms!
Overnight runoff provides enough moisture for grass to start growing again
Yesterday we headed into Fort Davis, and even without the benefit of rain there's evidence of life and regrowth since the fires.  This town is fully functioning now--and has been since mid April--and is absolutely ready for you to visit.  If you come soon, you'll witness a special time, when wildlife is easier to see and regrowth is starting to occur.

In Davis Mountains State Park, the campers were enjoying lots of room in the (completely unburned) campground.  In our first 15 minutes in the park, we saw a red-tailed hawk hovering over Skyline Drive--mastering the breeze in order to just hang there--looking for prey. Then a blur of red flew by, which we think was a summer tanager.  We also saw a group of four invasive species--aoudad--catching some shade under a surviving green tree in the midst of a burned area on Skyline Drive.  Most of this park's 2700 acres (2000 of it!) was completely untouched by fire.  So there's plenty of it left for you to enjoy!

At the Visitor Center, we picked up a flyer that explains the effect of the Rock House Fire in this park.  Here's some excerpts:

"How does wildfire affect plants and wildlife, and what is the situation in the Davis Mountains?
  • Plants and wildlife in most parts of Texas, including within the Davis Mountains, are adapted to, and even dependent upon, periodic fires.  The disturbance is a natural part of their world, which creates the habitat conditions required for their survival.  This is particularly true for the grasslands surrounding the higher portions of the Davis Mountains.
  • Most animals escape oncoming wildfires by running, flying or retreating underground.  While these animals may be temporarily displaced by fire, they quickly re-colonize burned areas as habitat conditions improve.  Some animals with limited mobility may succumb to fast moving wildfires."
"I enjoy visiting the Davis Mountains to see wildlife.  Since large areas of the range have recently burned, I will probably not see any, right?
  • Actually, your chances of observing wildlife are at least as good as they were before the fire, and they may be better.  It is common to observe many wildfire species such as deer and turkey entering burned areas within an hour after the fire has passed.  Additionally, fires result in a flush of new plant growth which attracts numerous wildlife species.  Hopefully late spring and summer rains will support this re-growth."
The green we saw yesterday along the roadsides may have been the result of overnight moisture collecting on the road, then draining off giving just a little bit of water to the grass just waiting to pop out.  Just think of how green the area will look after our first rain!  Come on out and see it for yourself! 

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