Recent rains in many parts of the state have resulted in the lifting of burn bans, meaning campers at more Texas state parks are able to warm their feet by a glowing fire and cook their favorite outdoor dish without fire restrictions.
Roughly two-thirds of the 93 state parks reported no burn ban restrictions last week, a significant increase from recent months when the ongoing drought prompted most of Texas’ 254 counties to institute burn bans. The Texas Forest Service reported 152 counties with burn bans, down from 206 a week earlier. That comes as good news to Texas state parks that have seen visitation drop off sharply the past few months, according to a Wednesday (November 30) Texas Parks and Wildlife news release.
“I believe that burn bans and restricted open fires have been contributing factors to a drop in camping activity in state parks this fall,” says Brent Leisure, Texas state parks director. “I continue to encourage our park superintendents to reach out to county judges and commissioners where burn bans exist to request exemptions or modifications, when appropriate and reasonable.”
At present, burns bans tend to be affecting state parks mainly in the Texas Hill Country, West Texas, the Panhandle, and South Texas. However, there are some exceptions. Those include such popular getaways as Colorado Bend, Franklin Mountains, Garner, and South Llano River state parks.
Park visitors should keep in mind, too, that many state parks, even though located in burn ban counties, still allow charcoal grilling. Most parks subject to burn bans permit cooking on propane and electric stoves.
Campfire Regulations/Burn Bans
Q: May I build a campfire in a state park?
A: Fires may be built only in campsite grills, fire rings, or fireplaces. Some sites allow only containerized fuel fires. Waist-high grills/ground fire rings are standard at most developed sites, as are tables and lantern posts. Some primitive sites have fire rings; some beach sites allow ground fires on sandy areas, if approved by the park manager. Firewood may not be gathered unless authorized by the park manager. Fireworks and explosives are not permitted.
Burn Bans: County judges and/or county commissioners’ courts can implement burn bans at any time, and the restrictions may change rapidly, to accommodate dry or dangerous conditions. A park will be affected if it is in a county that has a current burn ban, unless it has been granted an exemption. For the latest information on fire restrictions it is always best to contact the park or Park Information (1-800-792-1112-option 3; Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST) prior to arrival.
To view the latest map of Texas counties with burn bans, click here.
The central reservation number in Austin is (512) 389-8900.
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It was once a barren land.
The angular hills were covered with scrub cedar and a few live oaks.
Little would grow in the harsh caliche soil.
And each spring the Pedernales River would flood the valley.
But men came and worked and endured and built.
—Lyndon Baines Johnson