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  • Forestry company conducts lengthy controlled burn

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | PCE A controlled burn took place southwest of the Livingston city limits Thursday. The burn lasted from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Clouds of smoke could be seen for miles Thursday afternoon.

    And no fire departments were called to the scene.

    That’s because it was a controlled burn.

    The controlled burn took place southwest of Livingston in the vicinity of Farm-to-Market Roads 350 and 3126.

    The project was conducted by Lone Star Forestry LLC out of Huntsville.

    “We had zero issues,” Joe Pfluger of Lone Star Forestry said. “We burned 320 acres and did another 360 acres in San Jacinto County on Friday."

    The prescribed burn began at 9 a.m. Thursday and was completely put out by 6:30 p.m.

    Lone Star Forestry services Grimes, Polk, San Jacinto and Walker counties, to name a few. Pfluger also said that the prescribed burns revolve around one thing.“It’s all about the weather,” he said. “Weather is our boss. We’re looking for the right weather conditions such as wind, wind speed, temperature, humidity, the fuel on the ground, homes, people, airports, funeral homes, anything you could think of that cause issues with smoke. We wouldn’t want to be blowing into the city limits or the homes around us. We get a bunch of blocks set up and we wait for the right conditions to do the burn.”

    Lone Star Forestry recently received some grant money from the US Forest Service to help fund controlled burns. Pfluger believes controlled burns are necessary.

    “This is something that people should want more of,” he said. “The biggest part of the prescribed burn is to prevent wildfires. Fire is something of nature and has been for thousands of years. It’s by all means a good thing.”

    The irony behind prescribed burns is that they can reduce wild fires.

    “Prescribed burns reduce the fuel that’s out there,” Pfluger said. “Every year, pine straw and leaves fall and they accumulate. They’re tender blocks waiting to be lit. If we can keep a burn schedule of 2-3 years, we can eliminate the fuel. You’re also protecting the timber investment. It also enhances wildlife habitat and we want to get the woods back to their native state. You want to drive through the woods and see a grassy meadow underneath the trees. If it’s a controlled burn, it’s a good thing.”

  • Polk County celebrates 175 years

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE A pair of photo exhibits commemorating Polk County’s 175th birthday will be on display at the Polk County Historical Museum until April 10. Polk County celebrated its 175th year on Tuesday.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County turned a year older on Tuesday.

    The county celebrated its 175th year of existence, and the Polk County Historical Museum hosted a celebration Tuesday. The birthday celebration took six weeks to plan, according to museum curator Betsy Deiterman.

    “We had to be sure of the date, research the founding of the county and how the division was made, the legislature, then go through the archives and pick interesting pictures,” she said. “This was a come-and-go acknowledgement of the birthday for Polk County. We gave away a limited supply of gift bags. Patrons saw lots of photographs from many decades. The oldest photographs are framed and the oldest was in the 1880s.”

    A pair of photo exhibits are on display at the museum until April 10. These displays are in commemoration with the county’s 175th birthday.

    “I pulled 75 pictures that people normally don’t get to see,” Deiterman said. “I think we need to acknowledge that Polk County has been here 175 years and it’s a notable number.”

    Some of the photos on display are in need of identification, according to Deiterman.

    “Many of our pictures don’t have identification or dates,” she said. “We’re asking people that if they recognize anyone in the pictures to please let us know. We have a form for people to fill out if they recognize people or dates.”

    A decade and exactly four weeks after Texas became a state – March 2, 1836 – Polk County was formed on March 30, 1846. The county was formed out of neighboring Liberty County.

    The county was named after then-President James Polk. The 11th President of the United States was an advocate for Texas statehood.