Texas Burn Scars

    January 25, 2023

    Last year brought significant wildfires across Texas with over 650,000 acres burned. These fires can and will have lasting impacts on our landscape. One of the most visible effects? Burn scars. Simply put, a burn (or fire) scar is an area that has been left charred and stripped of vegetation by an intense wildfire.

    Typically, most low vegetation such as grasses and forbs are removed and a scattering of blackened snags, or dead trees, are left standing with only ash and fire-hardened bare soil remaining. 

    Without vegetation to hold soil in place, especially on slopes, erosion can take place even with modest rainfall amounts on burn scars. On large mountains, higher rainfall rates can even cause devastating mud flows into the creeks and streams, and where deeper soils exist, lead to entire hillsides collapsing.

    In Texas, grass and hardwood stump sprouts are already coming back on some of the 2022 burn scars and many areas are beginning to recover, but it may take as long as 10 years for the soil to fully revegetate and return to pre-wildfire water holding capacity.  Landowners impacted by wildfires can expect ongoing bouts of localized heavy erosion during strong to severe thunderstorms over the next several years.

    The good thing? These impacts can be mitigated with proven erosion control methods including contour felling, erosion control mats, fiber rolls, hydro mulching, seedling and more. For additional information on erosion control methods, click here.

    For assistance in controlling erosion on your property, contact Texas A&M Forest Service at