High winds, low humidity and prolonged dry conditions in Texas have led to increased threats for wildfires.  While some parts of the state have already been affected by damaging wildfires, other parts remain at risk.

Landowners affected by recent wildfires are encouraged to contact their local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) district conservationist.  The NRCS provides technical, and in some cases, financial assistance, to install measures that reduce post-fire damage and aid in the rehabilitation process.

 “Wildfires can provide valuable control of brush species, but may cause damage to perennial grasses if special care is not taken to allow recovery of the range,” states Salvador Salinas, Acting State Conservationist for the USDA-NRCS in Texas. “Loss of vegetation not only affects forages for livestock and wildlife habitat, but it can lead to increased soil loss due to erosion by wind and water.”

Practices such as grazing deferment, cross fencing, reseeding and water development are effective post-fire strategies to help reduce erosion.

“We can also provide assistance that will enable landowners to accelerate the health and vigor of affected rangeland,” said Salinas.

He suggests landowners consult with their local NRCS district conservationist to develop a conservation plan, which can be an effective strategy for pasture and rangeland recovery and mitigating the effects of the prolonged drought Texas is experiencing.

Wildlife habitat can also be affected by the wildfire and NRCS can provide technical and financial assistance in re-establishing the habitats for desired species.

NRCS services and programs are voluntary and offered without a fee to all agricultural producers. NRCS helps landowners and land managers protect and improve the natural resources on their property, including soil, water, air, plants, and animals.

For further assistance in evaluating your land and planning practices, or to address concerns following a wildfire, contact your local NRCS or Soil and Water Conservation District.  USDA Service Center offices are located in almost every county and are listed in phonebooks under federal and state government, or online at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.

deeann.littlefield@tx.usda.gov