COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Texans are using prescribed fire more than ever to manage land and mitigate wildfires. Now there is data to support this. A recent statewide survey found that 402,017 acres were treated with prescribed fire in Texas during 2018.
That’s up by nearly 50,000 acres from the previous year for two reasons - Texans are using prescribed fire to manage their land in one of the most successful and cost-effective ways, and they are also doing a better job at reporting that use.
“In a state as vast as Texas, no one agency has the sole responsibility of conducting and reporting all prescribed burning,” said Andy McCrady, Texas A&M Forest Service Fuels Coordinator. “We take a collaborative approach to land and fire management.”
In the spring of 2019, more than 60 stakeholders came together to create the Texas Prescribed Fire Council. Partners recognized that there is a significant amount of forest and rangeland in Texas – most of it privately owned – and that it takes everyone working together to conserve and protect our resources and communities.
The council is helping to guide the use of prescribed fire in the state, and together with Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research conducted the survey of prescribed fire use in Texas for 2018. The survey was disseminated via email to hundreds of professional land managers, governmental agencies and landowner groups - the majority of whom replied.
“The level of collaboration we are seeing across the state regarding prescribed burning has increased participation in filling out these surveys and reporting acres burned,” McCrady said. “This data collection is providing a clearer picture of how extensively Texans are using prescribed fire.”
This regularly occurring snapshot of prescribed fire in Texas will continually be part of a national report conducted by the National Association of State Foresters and The Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils. Their report has historically shown that across the country, states in the Southeast conduct 70% of all prescribed burning activity.
In the South, prescribed fire is used for multiple reasons, including managing forestlands, rangelands, and watersheds, maintaining wildlife habitat and mitigating future wildfires.
“By using fire in a prescriptive way, land managers can reduce hazardous fuel buildups - simultaneously meeting land management goals and moderating risk of severe wildfire in a cost effective way,” said McCrady. “Fire is a natural part of the Texas landscape, and when landowners use prescribed fire, they help make our land safer for all Texans.”
Learn more by visiting Texas A&M Forest Service-Prescribed Fires or Texas A&M Agrilife- Texas Prescribed Burn Handbook.
William “Andy” McCrady, Fuels Coordinator, Texas A&M Forest Service, 936-689-9393, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heath Starns, Research Associate, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, 979-229-3786, email@example.com
Jim Giocomo, Board of Directors - Secretary, Texas Prescribed Fire Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
Texas A&M Forest Service Communications Office, 979-458-6606, email@example.com