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United States Department of Agriculture • Natural Resources Conservation Service • 4609 W. Loop 289.

Lubbock, TX 79414 • Phone: (806) 791-0581 • Web: http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Quenna Terry, (806) 778-3672
quenna.terry@tx.usda.gov
April 25, 2011
Stan Bradbury, (806) 791-0581
stan.bradbury@tx.usda.gov

Prescribed Burn Helps Reduce Wildfire Threat to Communities

Lubbock, TX, April 25, 2011 - Over the past month, Dickens County fire officials and personnel
have provided aid to surrounding counties impacted by recent wildfire threats as far as 150 miles
away. Officials have seen homes burned, cities evacuated, livestock killed, and tens of thousands
of acres of grazing lands destroyed.

Dickens County has generally been spared complete wildfire devastation. Regardless, the
county’s Emergency Management (EM) team continues to work on wildfire mitigation action
plans to protect their communities from wildfires.

The EM in Dickens County requested technical assistance from the USDA-Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) to discuss the need for prescribed burn plans on acres of grass
lands in close proximity to the cities of Spur, Dickens and Afton.

“Emergency Management initially asked us for the aerial imagery of the communities,” said
Charlie Morris, district conservationist for the NRCS in Spur. “Together, we conducted an
evaluation for fire exposure from vegetation of all three cities.”

As a result, mitigation for the cities of Dickens and Afton were executed with simple bladed fire
breaks. The vegetation in these cities was determined to be mostly cropland with only minimal
ungrazed herbaceous vegetation.

In a similar review conducted for the city of Spur, Morris said they found severe hazard
conditions on the west city limits due to heavy CRP vegetation. Dickens County Judge Lesa
Arnold immediately requested assistance from the NRCS to work with the CRP landowner in
preparation of a defensive prescribed burn plan in an effort to create a fire-safe buffer on the
west side of Spur.

“Permission for mitigation action was gained from the landowner on April 18,” Morris said.

Morris and NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist James Lewis developed a complete burn
plan which included a 57-acre fire safe buffer for the city’s west side. EM approved the plan

- more-

Traffic control and smoke safety was executed by the Texas Department of Public Safety. South Plains Electric Cooperative and Caprock Telephone Cooperative granted leave to employees serving as Spur volunteer fire fighters. one tanker. Director. EM Coordinator Wess Abbott concluded. or (202) 720-6382 (TDD Helping People Help the Land An Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer . All guards were installed and evaluated to be ready if weather conditions were good. with four wildland fire fighting trucks. NRCS crews were present with an ignition UTV. “Fire safe buffers like this one on the west side of Spur is not a cure-all for protection. Office of Civil Rights.m. Abbott explained that the fire break will provide a trench for fire fighters to dig into and make a defensive stand should a severe wildfire approach Spur. Ideal weather conditions made it possible for the prescribed burn. The only cure from a total threat is rain.” he said. relative humidity was 70 percent. To file a complaint of discrimination. Washington. DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice). Conditions have remained so severe that nothing we create will provide absolute protection from fires of nature. Spur Police Department and the Dickens County Sheriff’s office. one fire command vehicle and one county motor grader. Spur residents can now breathe a little easier knowing a fire guard is there to help in the event a wildfire threatens their community. The fire safe buffer was completed by mid-morning. “This action is simply mitigation against wildfire threats. knowing that optimal weather conditions would determine their schedule.and set a tentative prescribed burn date for April 20. SW. assistant EM coordinator and district director of Duck Creek Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Morris met with Spur Fire Department personnel the evening before the tentative burn date to review the plan and coordinate the support. “The crew gathered on site at 7 a. worked with Dickens County road and bridge crews on preparation and installation of bladed fire guards prior to the prescribed burn. and one control burn sprayer. County Commissioner Sheldon Parsons directed the motor graders. write: USDA.” However. Greg Arnold. ### USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. 1400 Independence Avenue. Community support was unwavering.” Morris said. Weather forecast called for northeast winds and elevated relative humidity. weather monitoring equipment. Temperatures were in the mid 60’s. and a steady northeast wind blew at 10 mph.

Charlie Morris.jpg (L to R) NRCS personnel.jpg DSC0092_1. range management specialist.more- . DSC0095_1. jpg After firebreaks and a prescribed burn were completed on April 20.000 residents in the community of Spur. DSC0092_1. resource team leader and Ricky Paschall.jpg Heavy fuel-loads of CRP cover aided the back fire efforts. James Lewis. Optimal weather created excellent conditions for a successful prescribed burn. the threat of wildfire danger was reduced for approximately 1. .Cutlines: Spurburn4_1. volunteer with the Spur Fire Department assist to mitigate the wildfire danger for the community of Spur.