Texas A&M Forest Service is asking folks to protect Texas lands this hunting season by being mindful of activities that may cause a wildfire. From 2016 to 2020, the agency chartered by the Texas Legislature responded to 3,742 wildfires burning nearly 1.5 million acres. During that time, 37 percent of wildfires occurred during the months of September through January, according to a news release from last week.
“Texas A&M Forest Service wants all hunters to be safe this upcoming season,” Karen Stafford, Texas A&M Forest Service State Wildfire Prevention Program Leader, states in the release. “We all have a role to play in protecting our state from wildfires, so remember to do your part and don’t let a wildfire start.”
Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head, stated drought or free-cured grasses provide a very receptive environment for accidental wildfire ignition. He added the above-normal rainfall this year will contribute to the difficulty of extinguishing a fire burning in dead grass.
“Wildfires burning in tall, thick stands of grass will burn hotter, spread faster, and require more effort to extinguish,” Smith says.
Nine out of 10 wildfires in Texas are human-caused, and 65 percent of wildfires that occur during hunting season are caused by debris burning and equipment use, including parking in dry grass and dragging trailer chains, according to Texas A&M Forest Service.
Here are some simple tips to help avoid accidentally starting a wildfire while hunting and camping this fall include:
- Avoid driving over and parking on dry grass. The heat from your vehicle can easily ignite the grass.
- Always check with local officials for burn bans or other outdoor burning restrictions. Each county in Texas sets and lifts its own burn bans. Make sure you know your county’s burn ban status and if it restricts open flames and other heat-causing activities such as using charcoal.
- When using a cooking fire or campfire, never leave it unattended. Always make sure it is completely out by drowning it, stirring it, and feeling to ensure that it is out cold before you leave.
- Check tires. If you are taking a trailer out on your adventures, make sure that the tires are properly inflated. Make sure that any loose metal will not continually hit anything else, as it can cause sparks.
- Always be ready to put out a fire should one start. Have a shovel and water with you in camp and keep a fire extinguisher with you at all times.
Texas A&M Forest Service is an agency chartered by the Legislature to manage the interests of Texas’ forests. Created in 1915, the service is a part of the Texas A&M University System and headquartered in College Station.
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