"WHAT DO I DO ABOUT THIS MESS?"
ULPBA Directors Claudia Parker and Michelle Brangenberg improved their ranch using a variety of land management practices, including prescribed fire.
Hard work is paying off with increased land productivity, better wildlife habitat and restoration of water resources.
Their unique photo presentation documents before and after, work in progress, prescribed burning and results.
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FIRE ON THE LAND -- THE CONSEQUENCES
By Scott Richardson
In this comprehensive three-part series, ULPBA member and former Director Scott Richardson examines the history of fire on the land, both naturally occurring and as introduced by man, the reintroduction of fire as a land management tool and the specifics of planning and implementing a prescribed fire.
Part I: The Historical Perspective
"Kimble County lies in the ecological region of Texas referred to as the Edwards Plateau. Like most of Texas, the local landscape no longer appears as it once did. The land itself has not changed shape but the vegetation covering it has changed. When our European ancestors first showed up in the area 200-300 years ago, they found a land covered predominantly by grasses and wild flowers, with most of the trees and other woody species found mainly in the draws and along the waterways . . ."
Part II: Why and How Fire is Being Reintroduced as a Land Management Tool
"Fire, either naturally set by lightning or by humans for different reasons, has always crossed the land. It was also explained in the first article that due to grazing practices and the absence of fire our landscape has changed drastically in the last 100 years from a grassland savanna with wooded draws and valleys. Today the land continues to change through a process called fragmentation, which is the division of land areas by such things as fences, roads, utilities, etc. . . . "
Part III: Specifics in Planning and Implementing a Prescribed Fire
"Once a landowner has decided that fire is a proper management tool to use to meet his or her specific management and ecological objectives, then the landowner must commit to a long term plan in advance of the actual prescribed burn. This begins with sound range, livestock and wildlife management both before and after the actual burn. With that in mind the actual plan which includes the prescription should be written . . . "
The following story was written by Sam Jetton, Director and Vice President/Treasurer of ULPBA. Chris Schenck, the State Fire Director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, had the opportunity to address the state convention of emergency management coordinators in San Antonio and he contacted Jetton for pictures and anecdotes showing how prescribed fire had benefitted the general population. Jetton's story emphasizing the importance of prescribed fire was presented at that meeting.
The Little Town That Was Saved From a Wildfire
By Sam Jetton
In the spring of 2011 Texas was in the middle of the driest year on record. Dry lightning initiated a wildfire south of the small town of Junction near Telegraph Store in the vicinity of the Oasis Pipeline and the Oasis Wildfire was born. Extreme drought, low humidity, and high winds soon made it apparent that the fire was more than local volunteer fire crews could manage. The Texas Forest Service was called for assistance. They in turn called upon the US Forest Service as a war was about to be waged against a fire that was quickly moving toward the small town of Junction.
All area volunteer fire departments along with several private equipment contractors worked alongside TFS and USFS personnel in an attempt to save dwellings and establish a firebreak between the fire and Junction. While successful in preventing the loss of all known structures, the initial firebreak was either overrun or circumvented. Equipment and operations were moved northward just outside the city limits to once again attempt to establish a firebreak between two paved highways southwest of the town. The hospital and nursing home were evacuated and residents of Junction were notified to remain vigilant of evacuation notices providing this effort was unsuccessful. Between the two paved roads lay the divide between the North and South Llano River basins with some very challenging terrain issues. Initially crews attempted to cut a firebreak on state owned land, but it was so overgrown with juniper that progress was far too slow and the danger of an overrun was great. The crews moved to private land further south that was currently managed for livestock. On this land the fine fuel load was far less and the brushy species had been reduced. Equipment crews were able to make quick progress to establish a wide firebreak. One of the private equipment contractors had knowledge of an adjoining property on which a prescribed fire had taken place the previous year. With the drought conditions this area had little fine fuel and very few brushy species. He directed all crews to join the current effort with the old burn unit and an effective firebreak was soon established.
The fire was controlled before reaching the city of Junction. Although it claimed over 10,000 acres, no known structures were lost in the fire and the town of Junction did not have to endure the loss of private dwellings that others in the state faced that fire season.
To whom should we give credit for saving the town of Junction--the area volunteer fire departments, the Texas Forest Service, the US Forest Service, the private equipment contractors, or the landowners who continue to manage fuel loads utilizing livestock and prescribed fire? Of course the answer is—all of the above! No agency or group of individuals could have produced this outcome without the contribution of the others. The point is that while emergency responders are vital, it is land management practices, including the use of prescribed fire, that determine the success or failure of their efforts. It is therefore incumbent upon all managers to encourage and promote good land management practices along with the installation of defensible spaces around dwellings and private property in order that emergency personnel can safely and effectively protect all Texans.
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Watch this page as we add more educational information including essays, photos and videos.
Spotfires -- The 40% Rule
Guidelines And Policies
Why Burn? Learn The Facts
About Prescribed Burning