Strike first with prescribed fire

By Gary Joiner

There’s a growing fuel load on ranges and pastures across our state. It has concerned landowners looking ahead and asking, “When should I burn?”

Prescribed fire is an effective tool in the management toolbox. It represents a proactive attitude and perspective. Instead of reacting to a possible wildfire that scurries beyond the reach of control, a planned fire is coordinated and choreographed.

Range scientists say the presence of fire on a landscape determines its future. It acts as a reset for Mother Nature. Fire rejuvenates the system, replenishing all of the soil nutrients. The outcome is a positive cycle of productivity and overall sustainability.

Fire is natural. And the question is not whether the tool is effective. The answer is yes. The question is whether a burgeoning population and the increased “urbanization” of Texas rangeland will allow a fire culture to continue. There are those unsure of a prescribed fire’s value, safety and effectiveness.

Proponents should not turn away from critical heat. It’s an opportunity to engage. Prescribed fire is prudent and effective. About one million acres on rangeland in the Edwards Plateau have been successfully burned by landowners. Many other acres elsewhere across the state are flourishing because of this range management practice.

Livestock, wildlife and entire ecosystems are the big winners. But all of Texas wins when prescribed fire touches the landscape.

Gary Joiner

Gary Joiner is the senior associate director of Public Relations for Texas Farm Bureau.

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