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Central Texas Conservation Partnership

Resource Protection > Wildfire Recovery

Life After Wildfire

Unfortunately, you have just experienced the devastating effects of a wildfire. Hopefully structure and property losses were minimal and only vegetation was affected. You may feel the grasses, plants and trees will not return. All is not lost.

Fire has been an integral part of this environment for centuries and native plants and animals have adapted to its effects. In some instances, plant communities can become dysfunctional and unproductive without periodic fire. Wildfire, just like prescribed burning, can have positive effects on the environment. These benefits include:

  • increased palatability, yield, and availability of forage
  • increased utilization of forage by livestock and wildlife
  • control of undesirable brush and cacti species
  • reduction of fuel loads, minimizing the detrimental effects of future wildfires
  • control of various plant diseases

Plants have evolved several mechanisms to survive wildfire. Some will re-sprout, some will grow new leaves and others have fire resistant seeds that sprout after a fire. Some woody plants survive fire by having thick, protective bark or dormant buds below the soil surface. Most woody plants re-sprout if top growth is killed. Once top growth is lost, dormant basal buds begin growing. Some species, such as Ashe juniper, lack basal buds and do not re-sprout and can be managed with fire.  

The length of vegetation recovery after a fire is dependent upon a number of factors:

  • types of plants and their adaptation to fire
  • fire intensity
  • precipitation before and after the fire
  • soil type
  • prior grazing history
  • prior fire history
  • season of the fire
  • management after the fire



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