Fire has been an important part of our environment for millions of years. Without fire many brush species expand dramatically with negative effects on wildlife and ranching.
TOWMA promotes prescribed fire training and the use of fire as a habitat management tool . TOWMA has two prescribed burn trailers available that are equipped with everything a landowner needs to carry out a safe burn. These trailers are available for a nominal fee. They are staged in South Texas (Victoria) and South Central Texas (LaGrange) areas currently.
Visit the "Resources" page of this website for burn trailer scheduling information, Burn Plan Templates, and other burn related tools and information. Additional information is also available from many of the websites listed in our "Links" section.
Prescribed burning is a key land management tool. It is used to restore and maintain native plant communities to their former diversity and productivity for livestock production and wildlife habitat. Without fire, native plant communities become dysfunctional and unproductive. Research clearly shows there is no substitute for fire. Texas’ ecosystems are fire dependent, and not burning is poor land management.
Fire has been an important part of our environment for millions of years, like sunshine and rain. These three factors shape and define the landscape in which we live. From deserts to forests to grasslands, fire, or its absence, has historically played a key role.
Fire has helped shape the habitat in Texas today. Plants and animals have different responses to fire. Some respond favorably while others are sensitive and do not tolerate it well. In a fire dependent system like ours, fire is an essential natural process that plants and animals depend on for growth and reproduction. Without fire, fire sensitive plants like certain brush species expand dramatically.
Governmental policies have minimized the number of wild fires occurring naturally. Programs like Smokey Bear have been enormously successful, but have had the negative effect of converting native grass lands and savannas to dense pine forests or thick stands of brush with little grass or forbs. These changes have degraded habitat needed by fire-dependent plants and animals, and have resulted in unnaturally severe and dangerous wild fires in parts of the US and Texas. In South Texas, brush management has become one of the most significant and expensive challenges for both wildlife managers and cattlemen.
Prescribed burning follows guidelines that establish the conditions and manner under which fire will be applied on a carefully defined area to accomplish very specific management and ecological objectives. The focus is always on safe and effective burning and on achieving pre-planned goals related to the habitat involved. Wildfires, on the other hand, are by definition uncontrolled and often occur under the most hazardous conditions, causing damage to both property and the environment. Prescribed burning reduces or removes excess fuel loads and helps prevent wildfire.
Prescribed burning helps restore the natural balance of nature in a safe and calculated way. Prescribed burn associations and WMA’s that provide fire training to their membership, increase the use of fire across Texas and make it easier and safer for land and wildlife managers to employ it.
TOWMA promotes the use of prescribed burning as a key habitat management tool. We believe Wildlife Management Associations are in a unique position to encourage their members to use fire and are well positioned to provide training to their membership in its safe use. TOWMA provides sample Fire School Training agendas, speaker lists, and guidance on teaching the safe use of fire.
TOWMA currently (2010) has two burn trailers. Its first trailer, worth about $15,000, was donated by the Coastal Bend Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and it is equipped with almost all of the tools needed to conduct a prescribed burn. Only 4 wheelers and other vehicles are needed in addition to what comes with the trailer.
This trailer is stationed in the South Texas area at this time (Victoria) and is maintained and used by the Coastal Bend Prescribed Burn Association. However, it is available to anyone qualified in its use for a small rental fee. The rental fee is used for maintenance of the trailer. This trailer is an example of a group of organizations working together as a partnership for the benefit of wildlife.
TOWMA’s second trailer is staged at LaGrange, Texas. TOWMA plans to acquire more burn trailers as funds and grants allow, and to have them available at additional locations around Texas. Those geographical areas, or groups of WMA’s that apply prescribed fire the most, are the most likely to receive a future burn trailer. The Nature Conservancy also has burn equipment available for rent at some of their locations, including Victoria, Texas.
Why should your WMA be promoting prescribed burning to your members? Because it…
…optimizes habitat to the benefit of both wildlife and agriculture
…increases production of forage and browse
…promotes ecological diversity in native grasslands
…suppresses most brush and cacti species
…removes excess biomass on rangelands and in forests to reduce wildfires
…improves the quality and palatability of forage
…increases nutrient cycling
…controls pests and parasites
…improves pasture accessibility
…is the least expensive and possibly the most effective habitat management tool available