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Post-Fire and Drought Workshop Helps Palo Pinto County Landowners and Producers

Story by Randy Henry

With numerous wildfires still burning parts of Palo Pinto County and near Possum Kingdom Lake, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel and other top professionals delivered an educational post-fire and drought workshop at the Palo Pinto County AgriLife Extension building in Palo Pinto, Texas, for more than 35 landowners and producers on Aug. 31.

NRCS speakers addressed topics such as post-fire grass and forb response, browse response to fire, as well as rebuilding the infrastructure with fences and water development. Ricky Linex, NRCS wildlife biologist; Austin Shero, NRCS soil conservationist in Mineral Wells; and Kevin Derzapf, NRCS grazing lands specialist and GLCI coordinator in Weatherford, focused their presentations on this year's many wildfires and extreme drought conditions.

Shero noted that grass and forb response can be positive even after wildfire.

"Grass and forb seeds are present and will germinate in many areas impacted by wildfire, and grow from the pedestals and seeds," he said.

"Some trees still produce berries and other good forage going into the winter after wildfire for wildlife to feed off of, including all oak species that will re-sprout from basal stems," Linex said. "There is a great amount of oak re-growth within the burned areas that provide browse for deer for many years. A greater loss is the lack of acorn production for years until the surviving sprouts have reached maturity."

Following wildfire and drought, Derzapf commented on the value of fences and water resource development for landowners or a producer's operation.

"Look at the water resources on your ranch, it's the basis for rebuilding after wildfire," he said. "Control the operation with fences because more pastures equals more rest to grow plants for grazing."

Keynote speakers included Dr. Ron Gill, Texas A&M University professor and state livestock specialist, who targeted grazing management after drought, and what decisions producers must face now with the presence of wildfire and drought in the Palo Pinto area.

"Most of the management we have with recovery after drought is a risky gamble in this area, for right now there is little green here in North-Central Texas," Gill said. "This drought is so severe, it's not only affecting wildlife and livestock - it affects people, families, and your overall operation."

Informative presentations covered by top speakers included forage management, drought and climate forecast, business aspect of selling livestock now, wildlife management during drought, and an agriculture valuation update.

Along with NRCS personnel, other speakers included Jesse Oetgen, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD); Chuck Coffey, Hugh Aljoe, and Steve Swigert, The Noble Foundation; Scott Mauney, Palo Pinto County AgriLife Extension Service; and Donna Rhoades, Palo Pinto County Appraisal District.

Sponsors included USDA-NRCS, TPWD, The Noble Foundation, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative in Texas.

Scott Mauney
Dr. Ron Gill

Palo Pinto County AgriLife Extension Agent Scott Mauney welcomed more than 35 landowners and producers to the Post-Fire and Drought Workshop held recently at the Palo Pinto County AgriLife Extension building in Palo Pinto, Texas, with the message we want to help you manage your land after the wildfire and drought.

Dr. Ron Gill, Texas A&M University professor and state livestock specialist, addressed grazing management following drought, and spoke about the hard decisions that landowners and producers must face after extreme wildfire and drought in North-Central Texas.