Texas WildfiresBy Mike Barnett

Texans have looked into the eye of a firestorm this spring as wildfires ravage the Lone Star State.

Nearly 2 million acres have charred as severe drought tightens its grip. Howling winds and soaring temperatures contribute to a tenuous situation.

Firefighters have died, houses have burned, livestock has been killed and livelihoods have been lost. Fire crews continue desperate battles in parts of Texas. There is no relief in sight.

Yet, even as ranchers struggle to save their land, homes and cattle, they have not given way to despair. It will rain. Someday. And when it does, Mother Nature will give back what she took away.

Fire destroys, but it also renews. Long ago, it was a natural factor on Texas rangelands.

Fire suppressed undesirable woody species and cacti.

It encouraged growth of grasses and forbs beneficial to wildlife and livestock.

It improved forage and browse quality.

It released nutrients bound in dry grasses and woody plants back into the soil. It nourished the range.

Those who practice prescribed burns understand those concepts today. But it’s little solace to the rancher who has seen his future go up in flames.

 Seeds of hope, however, lie just beneath the blackened crust of the West Texas range. All we need is a little time and a lot of moisture.

When that happens–and it will–a barren landscape will once again blush with abundant life.

As singer/songwriter Eric Clapton wrote:

“Let it rain. Let it rain. Let it rain, rain, rain.”

Visit the Texas Farm Bureau website at www.txfb.org .
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Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
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