AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Fire Department is conducting a prescribed burn on the Water Quality Protection Lands Friday.

The city says crews plan to safely treat up to 55 acres near MoPac and State Highway 45 in Southwest Austin with the prescribed fire to help restore native grasslands in the area.

According to the announcement from Austin Water, the Water Quality Protection Lands (WQPL) program manages more than 30,000 acres to benefit the quality and quantity of water recharging the Edwards Aquifer. Austin Water’s Wildland Conservation Division manages those acres.

“Prescribed fire is a key tool used to manage this land and improves the quality and quantity of groundwater entering the Edwards Aquifer,” said Matt Lore, Austin Water Wildland Conservation Division in the city announcement. “Beyond our core mission of improving groundwater quality in Central Texas, the use of prescribed fire also improve(s) landscape resilience, promoting a diverse and vibrant ecosystem above the aquifer.” 

Austin Water said prescribed burns mimic the natural fire cycle in a way that can be planned and organized to limit fire intensity, and by reducing accumulations of wildland fuels, these efforts serve both natural landscapes and human communities by reducing the intensity of potential wildfires.

In savannah ecosystems such as those found on the WQPL, wildflowers and native grass communities flourish after prescribed fires, according to a release from Austin Water. Wildlife also benefits. For example, immediately post-fire, grassland birds like quail and northern harrier hawks benefit from newly open habitat for nesting and feeding.

You can follow updates on Friday’s burn here and learn more about prescribed fires here.