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Garza County News

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Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Formation of a Prescribed Burn Association

Published Nov. 19, 2012 @ 8:35 a.m.

An effort is underway to form a prescribed burn association (PBA) in the Southern Rolling Plains of Texas.  This PBA will be modeled after other existing PBAs in Texas (see http://pbatexas.org), but will be tailored to the unique local needs of the communities that it will serve.  The intent is to fill a gap in an 18-county area nestled between the existing North Central Texas PBA to the east, the Texas Panhandle PBA to the north, the edge of the High Plains to the west, and the I-20 corridor to the south.  Counties involved include Baylor, Borden, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Fisher, Foard, Garza, Hardeman, Haskell, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Motley, Scurry, Stonewall, and Wilbarger.

Given the extreme nature of the 2011 fire season, as well as previous busy fire seasons in 2006, 2008, and 2009, prescribed burning, or more appropriately the lack thereof, is becoming an important issue in Texas.  Utilization of fire, where and when appropriate, is increasingly becoming an important tool for land managers, fire departments, and natural resource agencies as a way to reduce hazardous fuel loads.  These fuels, if burned under the extreme conditions of a wildfire, could cause greater damage to property or rangeland resources and could pose greater risks to emergency responders and the public, than if they were burned under prescribed conditions for the purposes of rangeland or wildlife management, or hazardous fuel mitigation at the wildland/urban interface.

While a Texas landowner has the right to utilize prescribed fire under the law, they often lack the experience or confidence to carry out the burns without technical help.  This is where PBAs can help.  PBAs are organized landowner cooperatives that are user owned, controlled, and operated.  PBAs share knowledge, experience, and equipment among contributing members to increase the application and safety of prescribed fire as a management tool.  The primary benefits to landowners are these:

- Support of a locally led and run organization of neighbors helping neighbors,
- Reduced costs of fire management,
- Reduced risk through increased experience, equipment, training, and technical assistance,
- Community support and assistance,
- Ability to get more prescribed burning done on your land and the satisfaction of helping your neighbors do the same.

This effort is still in its early stages with our first open meeting to be held as soon as enough landowners indicate that they are interested.  The intent of this meeting would be to gather together those landowners interested in forming this PBA and to begin creating bylaws.  Members of other Texas PBAs will be on-hand to share their experiences and assist in this endeavor.  If you are interested in attending this initial “formation meeting” and/or joining this PBA, contact Derrick Holdstock with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Derrick.Holdstock@tpwd.state.tx.us or (806) 217-2911 by 7 December 2012.  This will ensure that you are notified of the dates, times, and locations of meetings and other PBA-related news.

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