ULPBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lewis Allen President
Sam Jetton Vice President/Treasurer
Claudia Parker Secretary
Burn Coordinator: Sam Jetton
Equipment Manager: Shane Mogford
HISTORY OF ORGANIZED
PRESCRIBED BURNING IN KIMBLE COUNTY
SINCE 2004: WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
Upper Llanos Prescribed Burn Association (ULPBA) is a proactive conservation organization based in Kimble County, Texas. ULPBA currently has approximately 54 members and associate members, most of whom are actively involved with the organization.
Fire is both a productive and potentially dangerous tool and membership guidelines and policy require members to seek training and guidance to make their participation in this practice safe and effective. Detailed, standardized pre- and post-event burn plan documentation is retained in ULPBA files.
ULPBA is governed by a 10-member Board of Directors, who are elected by the membership at an annual meeting and do not receive any compensation for their service.
The goal of ULPBA is to enhance the productivity of the land and provide more water to the aquifer by reducing runoff, erosion and competition from ashe juniper, while simultaneously reducing wildfire fuels.
A primary objective of ULPBA has also been to educate members and the public about the methods and benefits of prescribed burning when strictly adhering to safe and proven guidelines. Through the years, numerous articles and essays have been published, meetings held to which the public is invited and information disseminated electronically.
The group was originally formed June 16, 2004 as Kimble County Prescribed Burn Association with 26 members, as one of 11 chapters of the larger Sonora-based Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burning Association (EPPBA). After becoming independent of EPPBA, on February 17, 2012 the State Certificate of Incorporation name was amended to ULPBA and the IRS 501.c.3 designation as a public charity was granted on August 24, 2012.
ULPBA gained recognition early in its existence as a leader in prescribed burning, as well as a model for its internal administrative policies, guidelines and record-keeping practices, helping in the formation of other PBAs across the state and beyond.
In 2008, approximately 10,000 acres of Kimble County rangeland were successfully burned under prescriptions approved in comprehensive burn plans. Due to this extreme success and the reputation of the organization, the president and vice president were invited to speak at the National Conference on Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative in Reno, Nevada.
In April 2011, a lightning strike resulted in a massive wildfire in Kimble county. Responding quickly to the call for help, ULPBA members were some of the first on the scene at the Oasis Pipeline Wildfire, which caused evacuation of a large area in southwestern Kimble county and threatened the town of Junction. ULPBA members’ training and knowledge of rangeland fire made them an invaluable asset in the very early stages until the Forestry Service and other authorities assumed command.
ULPBA sponsored an intensive four-day Texas Dept. of Agriculture burn certification course at TTU/Junction in August 2017. Eighteen participants attended the comprehensive school which included classroom education and field experience.
ULPBA continues to spearhead training and education, partnering with other prescribed burning organizations and agencies in Texas and the central U.S. For many years, detailed information on each completed burn has been submitted to the Oklahoma PBA in conjunction with OSU’s Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, as part of the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange, a large regional scientific study.
ULPBA officers are well-respected across Texas, are in frequent contact with known experts, including academicians and scientists and are active with EPPBA, the Prescribed Burn Alliance of Texas and the newly formed Texas Prescribed Fire Council, among others.
Accurate technical weather information is required to implement every prescribed burn plan and in 2018 the ULPBA vice president contacted the Director of the TTU/Junction Field Station, which resulted in TTU’s commitment to the installation of a Mesonet live weather reporting station in Kimble county at an elevation which better suited the area of the majority of ULPBA prescribed burns. A ULPBA member ranch that met requirements was offered as the site, with those landowners and other members providing some of the necessary labor for the installation facilities. On March 6, 2019 the new real-time weather reporting station was brought online (according to information provided, this is a $23,000 station).
Although not a political organization and no money is contributed to political campaigns, for many years ULPBA officers have been actively involved in state legislation which would benefit PBAs and their members.
By acting through the local State Representative and in partnership with conservation and prescribed burning experts, along with numerous property rights, water and natural resource agencies, the bi-partisan HB 2053 was passed and signed by the governor in this legislative session. It was a major accomplishment which addressed issues with PBAs, members’ liability and other concerns.
The president and vice president will represent ULPBA in September 2019 at the Texas Prescribed Burn Board’s first meeting in West Texas, the Prescribed Burning Alliance of Texas meeting and the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange field day, where the vice president has been invited to speak on the 2019 legislative achievements.
ULPBA enjoys a good working relationship with state agencies, Kimble county and other local governing authorities and surrounding rural fire departments. Each year a portion of ULPBA earnings is contributed to rural VFDs, including Junction, Ft. McKavett, London and Divide.
ULPBA also donates annually to provide a scholarship for a local agriculture student to attend the Texas Section Society for Range Management’s five-day Youth Range Workshop.
Although the weather and rangeland conditions afforded only short windows of opportunity in 2019, by August 30, 2019 ULPBA members had completed successful prescribed burns on 4,338.80 acres in Kimble county.
Prescribed burning is one component of an overall conservation plan to protect and restore our natural resources. It is viewed as a very effective range management tool, making agricultural land more productive, contributing to the restoration of wildlife habitat, replenishing aquifers and as a safeguard against wildfires fueled by underbrush and overgrown rangeland.
Through education, training and the safe practice of prescribed burning, ULPBA seeks to improve the environment, ecology and economy, benefiting both rural and urban residents.
( August 30, 2019)
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