Highest wildfire risk between Fort Worth and San Antonio
MEGAN CLAYTON/Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Jose Martinez, U.S. Department of Agriculture rangeland management specialist, lights a flank fire during a prescribed burn in Jim Hogg County. One of the best ways to protect property is through prescribed burning, but it should only be done by highly trained personnel, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service range specialist.
COLLEGE STATION -- Many areas of Texas remained hot and dry, and though fuel loads may not be as high as last year, the risk of wildfire is building, said Megan Clayton, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service range specialist, Corpus Christi.
Though there haven’t been any large wildfires to match those of 2011, AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M Forest Service experts are already working on preventing outbreaks and limiting the damage they do, Clayton said.
Clayton recently attended a Forest Service workshop in New Braunfels where the emphasis was on the risk of wildfire in the “wildland-urban interface.”
“That’s the area just outside of major urban areas where more and more people are moving in Texas,” Clayton said.
These are often the highest risk areas because of the concentrated fuel loads that build in and around rural home landscapes, she said.
On the Forest Service’s Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, the highest risk [in early September] was in the central part of the state, along the U.S. Interstate 35 corridor from Fort Worth to San Antonio.
The Forest Service site also has information on judging wildfire risk for any particular area and the likely intensity of a wildfire if it starts.
Clayton said more information on wildfire prevention can also be found on the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network at http://texashelp.tamu.edu/.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported conditions remained hot and dry with no rain forecast, but with slightly cooler days. Some pecan growers were harvesting early this year. Crows were a problem in some orchards. The corn and cotton harvests continued. Pastures and rangeland further declined.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported temperatures were above normal with no measurable rain. Most areas finished harvesting corn, sorghum, and cotton. Rangeland and pastures needed rain. Cattle were being sold due to lack of forages.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the South District, including Atascosa County, reported extremely hot and dry weather caused high evaporation rates, rangeland and pastures to further deteriorate, and soil moisture levels to drop. Soil-moisture levels were very short in the northern and eastern counties, and short to very short throughout the western and southern counties. Stock-tank levels continued to drop. Many ranchers further culled herds because of forage shortages. Cattle were in poor to fair condition. Fall-planted corn and peanuts in Atascosa County were progressing well.
Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.