Archive for the 'prescribed burns' Category

TPW TV–Trail Ranch

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Trail Ranch

This is Passport to Texas

Justin and Tamara Trail live in Albany, which is about a 10 minute drive from their 19-hundred acre ranch in Shackelford County.

Tamara and I always dreamed of having our own place to enjoy and manage and steward and then when you layer on top of that inviting people out to enjoy that, I can’t imagine anything better.

They acquired the ranch in 2009. Since then, they’ve disked, burned and sprayed their property to fight invasive mesquite, prickly pear and winter grass.

And in response, we get all these warm season forb plants.

Cattle have a role to play, too.

Over the last three or four years, we’ve re-introduced cattle back in just to try to change the grass composition from cool season winter grasses to more of the warm season plants that we’re looking for.

As 2018 Lone Star Land Steward Award Winners for the Rolling Plains ecosystem, the Trails are innovators. TPW biologist Jesse Oetgen [O-ta-gin (long O, hard G)] cites their use of a roller chopper as proof.

In a single pass he can use the dozer blade to push brush out of the way, the roller chopper to chop that prickly pear and immediately followed with herbicide application. That roller chopper – spray combination as an implement is something that nobody else around here has done and it’s really caught on in the last couple of years.

See their story the week of January 13 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Using Fire as a Tool

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Working on a prescribed burn.

This is Passport to Texas

Fire suppression became U.S. Federal policy in the early 20th century. By 1924, conservationist Aldo Leopold argued that suppressing fire worked against ecosystem health. A change in thinking and policy came in the 80s.

At that time, nationally, they put forward some legislation and some funding—and there was a national fire plan. And the two parts of that plan were first to work on managing the fuels with both mechanical and prescribed fire. And then, of course, enhancing the firefighting capabilities amongst federal and state and local agencies.

Chris Schenk is the statewide fire program leader for the wildlife division at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We develop prescription parameters; we try to give ourselves a reasonable range. But, unless those parameters exist, we are not likely to ignite the fire.

Prescriptions are specific to each piece of land, and include strategies for containment.

We’ll put in some sort of fire break. And, based on how we think the fire is going to behave, we may take the fire break down to mineral soil 20 feet wide. Or some number that’s conducive to how we think that fire’s going to behave.

Lean more about the art and science of wildland fire management when you log onto the ignite the fire. website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds fire management programs in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

The Problem with Fire Supression

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018
Building Baseline Interior Ignitions

Building Baseline Interior Ignitions

This is Passport to Texas

The expression “live and learn” applies to the subject of today’s show. Because our predecessors didn’t fully grasp the vital role that fire plays in maintaining healthy ecosystems, they did all in their power to suppress it.

We’ve now come to realize that maybe putting every fire out, or not introducing fire, has placed our wildlands in difficult conditions. Not just for a healthy ecosystem, but for a fire safe community where people live.

Chris Schenk is statewide fire program leader for the wildlife division at Texas Parks and Wildlife. How does the lack of fire make us less safe? As dead, dry plant debris accumulates, it effectively becomes fuel for unintended fires.

The years and years of buildup of coarse and fine woody debris puts communities at great risk. And makes it far more difficult to provide fire protection to those communities [when fires do occur]. So, fire has played a significant role in the development of most parts of the country, and certainly have been a significant issue here in Texas.

We’ve come a long way in our understanding, and now use fire as a tool. More about that tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds fire management programs in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Fire in Nature: Friend or Foe?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018
Managing a burn.

Managing a burn.

This is Passport to Texas

Throughout time, fire has been a tonic for native plant communities.

Vegetation species grow up, and they get decadent and old. And, unless they are rejuvenated, the ecosystem’s just not that healthy. And so fire has been a common occurrence in this continent and in Texas, and it’s caused us to have a varied ecosystem throughout the state.

Chris Schenk is the statewide fire program leader for the wildlife division at Texas Parks and Wildlife. He said that by the early 20th century fire suppression had become official U.S. federal policy.

We suddenly decided that fire was a real bad thing. We were moving west, and now we thought fire was an enemy. So we began a strong campaign throughout the country to put all fires out. And, in fact, even before that, when Texas had become a state, one of the early laws was it was against the law to burn grass, because grass meant income to ranchers and farmers. And so we started thinking of fire as an enemy instead of something that we needed to learn to live with.

Yet, if ecosystems depend on fire for rejuvenation, what happens when we suppress it? That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds fire management programs in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Feel the (Prescribed) Burn

Monday, February 19th, 2018
Prescribed burn underway.

Prescribed burn underway.

This is Passport to Texas

Man mimics nature when he uses fire as a land management tool. He does this with controlled burning, and with prescribed fire.

David Riskin, director of natural resources for state parks, says there is a difference between the two.

Controlled burning is a term that people use that you start at part A, and you burn until you get to part B. Professional land managers use the term prescribed fire because you have specific objectives, you have specific outcomes, you burn under very specific conditions. And so a prescription is a planning document… you lay everything out ahead of time and you then implement it with very specific objectives in mind.

Those objectives naturally have to do with land management, as well as a range of various objectives a landowner may hope to achieve.

There can be a whole series of objectives. From very simple things like fuel load reduction. You can have specific habitat objectives…to change the vegetation structure and composition to support waterfowl, or to support antelope, or lesser prairie chickens…or Houston toads for that matter.

Learn more about prescribed fire on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti