As the Hidden Pines fire continues to burn over thousands of acres in Bastrop County, faculty members at UT Austin offer their expertise on tracking the wildfire spread, preserving personal items of victims, and the impacts of fires on landscapes. Contact the experts listed below and check back at this webpage for updates.
Tracking Wildfire Spread
Research Associate, Center for Space Research
Wells has worked with the Texas Division of Emergency Management for years on the operational response to wildfires and provides satellite images of fires to local broadcast outlets. He is an expert on using satellite data to track natural disasters.
Preservation of Personal Items
Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Information
Rebecca Elder is an expert on personal item conservation in emergency situations. She teaches about book repair, photograph and audiovisual materials preservation, emergency preparedness and best preservation practices.
Lecturer, School of Information
Pavelka offers information on materials conservation. She instructs in the paper conservation labs, preventive conservation and materials science.
For preservation assistance, the public can contact: 512-903-9564.
Interim Director of Research and Consulting, Manager of Wildflower Center Prescribed Burn Program, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
O’Toole is an environmental designer and the manager for prescribed burns conducted with multiple agencies to improve Wildflower Center landscapes. He manages center consulting projects with national parks, corporations, and other clients focused on improving or restoring native landscapes, with prescribed burns considered among the management tools. Since 2001, center research on 76 center acres has shown that prescribed burns help certain native plants thrive, while reducing the presence of unwanted, invasive plant species. O’Toole and 10 of his research and consulting staff have received training on wildland and prescribed fire operations through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, and he is among staff with Texas Prescribed Burn School training.
Land Steward, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Bertelsen is a land steward who has participated in 18 prescribed burns as part of the center’s research and consulting team. Her main interests lie in using ecological approaches to overcome conservation, restoration and environmental challenges. Her previous projects include providing interpretive information about Bastrop Sate Park’s unique fauna for educational content. Bertelsen has a particular interest in using spatial technologies to focus restoration activities and help decision makers harmonize urban development and environmental needs. For instance, she led much of the center’s involvement in assessing the best path for the Violet Crown Trail’s southernmost section (yet to be opened on the city’s Water Quality Protection Lands). She has received training on wildland and prescribed fire operations through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, and has Texas Prescribed Burn School training.