Sunday, July 7, 2013

Number 26: Possum Kingdom State Park and Wildfire Recovery

Texans will likely not forget the terrible wildfires of 2011.  47.3% of the wildfires in the U.S. that year burned in our state.  I think we all lived on edge day to day as the drought dragged on and fires popped up all across our state.  The Bastrop fire was horrible, to say the least, but other damaging fires ravaged Texas as well.  One fire went though Possum Kingdom State Park burning 90% of its 1,600 acres, and 148,000 acres at the lake including 166 homes.  This was our 3rd park to visit on July 3rd, and even as we pulled up the park road, we knew this visit was going to be a little different.

The devastation from the fire 2 years ago is still very evident.  It's easy to see what the fire took and what it spared.

The skeletons of cedar are everywhere.  Each park we visit has something that jumps out at me to write about, but I wondered as we drove from the Ranger's office to the trail head, how on earth I would find something other than sadness to focus on for this post.

Granted, even the burned branches and rocks had a beauty about them, but . . .

Even the tree with sign pointing the way had not been spared.  Obviously the sign is new.

However, we were pleasantly surprised.  The parts of the park that had not burned were thriving and provided nice shade for our late afternoon hike in the Texas sun.  It gave us a glimpse of what the rest of the park must have been like before the fire.

The natural grasses had come back and looked wonderful moving in the lake breeze.

And wildflowers still in bloom provided lots of color on the trail.  These are called Bluebell.  I MUST find some seeds to spread in my yard.

Well past spring and still going strong.

Black-foot Daisy
Silver-Leaf Nightshade
The prickly pear had also taken a hit in the fire, so I was glad to see this little guy doing well.  It was the only one we saw, but I bet there were others.

In the end, thank goodness, new life is springing up.  Some in the most unusual of places like this oak sapling growing up from the center of a burned out tree.

I read an article before writing this post that said it would take 70-80 years for the park to recover, but that doesn't mean there are not beautiful sights to see there now.  I'd like to go back every few years to see what is growing.