Special to the News-Standard
AUSTIN — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department urges Texans to help protect the lands and natural resources we all love during the upcoming dove hunting season by being mindful of activities that may cause a wildfire.
Persistent triple-digit temperatures and minimal rainfall over the past two months have resulted in extremely dry vegetation across the state, which increases the likelihood of dangerous wildfires. Any outdoor activities that create heat or sparks can ignite dry vegetation and wildfire.
“Since mid-June, Texas has been marked by devastating wildfires that have burned more than 75,000 acres,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “As Texans recreate this hunting season, it is important to remember that your actions can leave a lasting impact, and everyone has a role to play when preventing wildfires.”
Every year, hunters take to Texas lands for the start of dove hunting season. Wildfires caused by vehicles, trailers, ATV/UTVs and other equipment frequently used while hunting and camping are common during the season, which occurs each year from September to January.
This year, conditions are favorable for wildfire ignitions and Texas land management agencies urge everyone to be cautious on hunts, whether it takes place on public or private land.
“We are excited to welcome hunters back to the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas for another successful season,” said Kimpton Cooper, National Forest and Grasslands in Texas Forest Supervisor. “Hunting season is one of the busiest times on the forests and grasslands, and safety is always our primary concern. Combining efforts with our state partners to spread awareness, while encouraging our visitors to follow guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of wildfires during hunting season. Remember, practicing responsible behavior and being vigilant can help preserve the natural environment and ensure everyone’s safety.”
As the upper-level ridge continues over Texas, widespread temperatures will remain in the triple-digits with lower relative humidity values. With little to no improvement in fuel dryness, fire potential is expected to persist for North, Central and East Texas.
“As Texans venture outdoors, it’s important to remember just how dry the vegetation is,” said Chis Schenk, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Statewide Fire Program Leader “It doesn’t take much for an inadvertent spark or carelessness to cause a wildfire. The high temperatures cause fires to spread rapidly and make it hard for firefighters to work. Please enjoy the outdoors but be careful with fire.”
Nine out of 10 wildfires in Texas are human-caused and everyone can make a difference by taking personal responsibility for their actions. Remain vigilant as drought conditions continue to expand and intensify and be cautious with any activity that may cause a spark.
To avoid accidentally starting a wildfire while dove hunting:
•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. View the latest burn ban map here: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/burnbans/.
•If you are taking a trailer out on your adventures, make sure tires are properly inflated, chains don’t contact the road and loose metal doesn’t repetitively hit anything else, all of which can cause sparks.
•Always be ready to put out a fire should one start. Have a shovel and water with you in camp and have a fire extinguisher with you at all times.
For more information on preventing wildfires this hunting season, please visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/HuntingFireSafety/.