Record number of Texas acres treated with prescribed burns

More Texans are turning to prescribed burns to manage land and mitigate wildfire danger, according to a recent statewide survey.

More than 400,000 acres were treated by prescribed burns in 2018, an increase of nearly 50,000 acres over the year before, Texas A&M Forest Service fuels coordinator Andy McCrady said.

And it’s a collective effort among landowners and organizations.

“In a state as vast as Texas, no one agency has the sole responsibility of conducting and reporting all prescribed burning,” McCrady said. “We take a collaborative approach to land and fire management.”

The Texas Prescribed Fire Council was formed last spring to coordinate and guide the use of prescribed burning across the state.

The council, along with Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, conducted the survey via email. Hundreds of professional land managers, governmental agencies and landowner groups responded.

“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.”

The survey is part of a national annual report conducted by the National Association of State Foresters and the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils.

Prescribed burning is used for a variety of reasons including managing rangeland, watersheds and forests, maintaining wildlife habitats and mitigating wildfire dangers.

“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,” McCrady said. “Fire is a natural part of the Texas landscape, and when landowners use prescribed fire, they help make our land safer for all Texans.”

For more information on prescribed burns, including help locating a certified prescribed burn manager, visit Texas A&M Forest Service’s website or check out the Texas Prescribed Burn Handbook online from AgriLife Extension.

There is also an online course available to those interested in becoming prescribed burn managers.