SONORA – The Academy for Ranch Management will host two rangeland burning schools in February and March at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research-Sonora Station located on State Highway 55 between Sonora and Rocksprings.
“Texas finally received good rainfall across most of the state, resulting in more grass production than we have seen in several years,” said Ray Hinnant, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research senior research associate in College Station.
“During the summer we also saw an increase in wildfires as a result. These courses will assist landowners in using prescribed fire for habitat restoration, rangeland restoration and wildfire mitigation. Recovery from wildfires and prescribed burning will also be discussed.”
An introductory Prescribed Rangeland Burning School will be held Feb. 18-20, Hinnant said. This workshop will provide an overview of prescribed burning and will include information on the history of fire, weather, planning a burn, fuels and fuel moisture, and equipment.
“The introductory school is for those interested in prescribed burning as either a volunteer on a burn or to burn on their ranch,” he said.
The Advanced Rangeland Burning School on March 3-5 builds on the previous school, providing more information on fire behavior, fire effects, and planning and conducting a prescribed burn, Hinnant said.
“These schools provide the basics of prescribed burning and can be used throughout the state of Texas,” he said. “We have also had volunteer firefighters and land owners and managers in several other states take the prescribed burning classes.”
The cost for each school is $395, which will include meals and lodging. In addition, Hinnant said, there will be a $45 facilities-use fee due upon arrival for each school.
Lewis Allen of Sonora said he has attended three workshops, with the biggest benefit being the thorough information provided regarding issues of safety relating to personnel and pasture preparation for a safe burn.
“The money and time spent have been well worth it to me,” Allen said. “It has enabled us to conduct 12 fires on our ranch, resulting in at least twice the forage production annually compared to the years before we began using prescribed fire.”
The Academy for Ranch Management is a program of AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M University department of ecosystems science and management in College Station. The Sonora facilities provide a teaching laboratory for hands-on experience.
Hinnant and Dr. Charles “Butch” Taylor, superintendent of the research station, are prescribed burning board lead instructors. Other speakers during the two courses include Dr. Mort Kothmann, Texas A&M department of ecosystems science and management professor, and Nick Garza, an AgriLife Research associate at Sonora.
The Academy for Ranch Management has provided training for over 15 years and more than 150 students have passed the Texas Prescribed Burning Board’s course, which is the educational component to apply for a Certified and Insured Prescribed Burn Manager license.
“Our classes are designed to be limited in enrollment so the participants can ask specific questions about their ranch or land management burning and to have camaraderie with other participants with similar problems and potential solutions,” Hinnant said.
Successful completion of both courses and passing the exam will provide the educational component to begin application for either a private, commercial, governmental or not-for-profit certified prescribed burn manager license through the Texas Department of Agriculture, he said.
Persons interested in attending either school should go to www.agrilife.org/arm for a registration form, and mail it along with payment to Jeanne Andreski at: Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, 2138 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2138.
Hinnant also asked those planning to attend to send him an email at email@example.com so he can get them on the list. For more information, call Hinnant at 979-820-1778.