Local ranchers to organize ‘Prescribe Burn Association’

Organizing a local cooperative effort centered around the benefits of prescribe burning will be the focus of a meeting scheduled Tuesday afternoon beginning at 3:30 p.m. Prescribe burning, or using fire for range improvement, has once again become a common practice during the past few years. Fire was a natural ecological factor that native Indians utilized to encourage grass and forb growth on their hunting grounds. With the introduction of European settlements, early settlers suppressed rangeland fires for fear of destruction to property and animals. As a result of 150 years of fire suppression, people developed a strong negative perception that all range fires were bad because of the numerous uncontrolled wildfires that developed. In recent years, range ecologists and scientists have “re-discovered” the benefits of fire. Properly controlled fire will improve pasture accessibility, increase production of desirable forbs, browse and grasses while suppressing most brush and cacti species. Ranchers are also learning that fire improves grazing distribution of livestock and wildlife because of the increase in forage quality and palatability. As a result, both livestock and wildlife production increases from the increased nutrient supplies and reduction of certain parasites and pests following a prescribe burn. Prescribe Burn Associations are being formed within Central and West Texas ranching communities to pool necessary resources of people and equipment to conduct controlled fires. Ranchers interested in joining the McCulloch County Prescribe Burn Association need to attend the membership meeting set for next Tuesday, July 1. The meeting will be held at the McCulloch County Farm Bureau board room, starting at 3:30 p.m. For additional details or membership forms, contact the McCulloch County Extension Office at 597-1295.

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