Fire plays an important role in most ecosystems and is a vital component of ecosystem functions. Because fire was a natural factor on most Texas rangelands and forestlands before European settlement, native vegetation and wildlife are well adapted to burning. Fire effectively suppresses many woody plant species while encouraging grass and forbs growth; which is beneficial to livestock and wildlife.
As Texas becomes more urbanized, the awareness of prescribed fire as a tool for land and wildlife management becomes more complex. The historic 2011 fire season was devastating to the people, property, and natural resources of Texas. Local fire departments and the Texas Forest Service responded to over 30,000 individual fires that consumed over 4 million acres since the start of fire season on November 15, 2010.
STPRA believes educating landowners, local governmental and civic leaders, volunteers, and the general public in the safe use of prescribed burning as an efficient and practical method of land management and for the prevention of wildfires is vital to the success of its continued use. Equipment and technology are important components to wildfire prevention and prescribed burning management. STPRA believes the following measures add to the success of wildfire prevention and the safe use of prescribed burning:
- Encourage landowners to share equipment to help fight wildfires
- Promote fundraisers, grants, and landowner donations to local fire departments to ensure they have the proper equipment to fight wildfires on ranch land and help landowners with prescribed burns
- Use online resources for prescribed burning information
- Use GPS information for landowner and emergency worker use
- Create landowner maps for use of emergency situations/wildfires
- Encourage local public safety organizations to use communication channels that are compatible with each other and the Texas Forest Service.
STPRA will continue to work with the South Texas Prescribed Burn Association, the Prescribed Burn Alliance of Texas, the State Fire Policy Task Force, and other like-minded associations to ensure that the general public recognizes the role controlled burns can have on decreasing the available fuel for wildfires to maximize fire prevention and fuel reduction techniques; and the benefit of prescribed burning as a land management tool for wildlife and livestock.
STPRA was invited by the Texas Department of Agriculture to participate in the newly organized State Fire Policy Task Force. STPRA executive director, Susan Kibbe, represents the Association on the “Task Force”. STPRA representatives were also invited to sit on the advisory committee of the Prescribed Burning Board for the State of Texas.
STPRA supports the Texas Prescribed Burning Board’s creation of a third classification of a certified prescribed burn manager.