Vegetation rersponse to summer burning in the Hill Country of Texas

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Texas Tech University

Vegetation response to summer burning is of interest to private and public land managers who may use it to manipulate vegetation. Effects of summer burning were tested at two sites at Colorado Bend State Park, San Saba County, Texas, in summers 2000 and 2001, and at Hill Country Slate Natural Area, Medina County, Texas, summer 2001. Study sites are located on redland range sites at Colorado Bend State Park, and on clay loam sites at Hill Country State Natural Area, hi each study site, twelve, 30-m transects were installed for study. Six transects were burned, and six were unburned (control) transects. Vegetation measurements were collected prior to, and 1 and 2 years after late-summer burning depending on site.

With few exceptions, summer burning had little effect upon vegetation response. Exceptions included significant declines in greenbriar density, Texas croton frequency, and Texas wintergrass frequency, 1-year post-burn on clay loam sites at Hill Country State Natural Area. Litter was reduced 1 -and 2-years post-burn on the 2000 burn site at Colorado Bend State Park, and woodsorrel and tasajillo frequency and density declined, 1-year post-burn on 2001 burn sites (Colorado Bend State Park). Unusual rainfall events affected the results of this study, and consequently, further study is required for comparison with relatively normal years. At present, however, summer burning is not recommended for these sites, but may be an effective brush control technique on more productive sites.