The association will be modeled after other existing PBAs in Texas, but will be tailored to the local needs of the region. Organizers said the intent is to fill a gap in an 18-county area between the existing North Central Texas PBA to the east, the Texas Panhandle PBA to the north, the edge of the High Plains to the west and the I-20 corridor to the south.
Other counties that would be part of the new PBA are Baylor, Borden, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Fisher, Foard, Garza, Hardeman, Haskell, Jones, Kent, King, Knox, Motley, Stonewall and Wilbarger.
"Given the extreme nature of the 2011 fire season, as well as previous busy fire seasons in 2006, 2008 and 2009, prescribed burning, or more appropriately the lack thereof, is becoming an important issue in Texas," said Derrick Holdstock of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
"Utilization of fire, where and when appropriate, is increasingly becoming an important tool for land managers, fire departments and natural resource agencies as a way to reduce hazardous fuel loads. These fuels, if burned under the extreme conditions of a wildfire, could cause greater damage to property or rangeland resources and could pose greater risks to emergency responders and the public, than if they were burned under prescribed conditions for the purposes of rangeland or wildlife management or hazardous fuel mitigation at the wildland/urban interface."
While a Texas landowner has the right to utilize prescribed fire under the law, they often lack the experience or confidence to carry out the burns without technical help, Holdstock said.
"This is where PBAs can help. PBAs are organized landowner cooperatives that are user-owned, controlled and operated," he said. "PBAs share knowledge, experience and equipment among contributing members to increase the application and safety of prescribed fire as a management tool."
The primary benefits to landowners are:
Support of a locally led and run organization of neighbors helping neighbors.
Reduced costs of fire management.
Reduced risk through increased experience, equipment, training and technical assistance.
Community support and assistance.
The ability to get more prescribed burning done on land and the satisfaction of helping neighbors do the same.
The effort is still in its early stages with the first open meeting to be held as soon as enough landowners indicate that they are interested.
For more information about the meeting, call Holdstock at (806) 217-2911 by December 7.