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Pro/Con: Should the government enact burn bans?

By chirst
Aug. 25, 2013 at 3:25 a.m.
Updated Aug. 26, 2013 at 3:26 a.m.

Tips for safe debris burning:

•  Don't burn trash and brush on dry, windy days.

• Check to see if weather changes are expected. Outdoor burning should be postponed if shifts in wind direction, higher winds or wind gusts are forecast.

•  Before doing any burning, establish wide control lines down to bare mineral soil at least 5 feet wide around any burn barrels and even wider around brush piles and other piled debris to be burned. The larger the debris pile, the wider the control line needed to ensure that burning materials won't be blown or roll off the pile into vegetation outside the line.

•  Stay with all outdoor fires until they are completely out.

•  Keep water and hand tools ready in case your fire should attempt to spread.

•  Burn household trash only in a burn barrel or other trash container equipped with a screen or metal grid to keep burning material contained.

Source: Texas A&M Forest Service

Prescribed burning benefits:

• Improves many different types of landscapes and vegetation

•  Improves watershed function

• Improves diversity of plants and trees

• Improves wildlife habitat

• Removal of litter, dead debris, brush, fallen trees - understory removal

•  Reduction in available fuel for large, intense, rapidly spreading wildfires

• Improves soil nutrients

• Improves carbon storage

Source: Texas A&M Forest Service

Local governments did not have the specific right to prohibit burning on private property until 1999, when a bill passed the Texas Legislature legalizing burn bans.

Only to be used because of drought or wind conditions, burn bans have become a commonly used tool by counties statewide to cut back on grass fires.

For many, burn bans are a logical step to keep the public safe from fire.

For others, however, burn bans are seen as a violation of private property rights.

And for many ranchers and farmers, burn bans are an impediment to taking care of their property, because dry times are the best time to start controlled burns, and burns are necessary for clearing land, creating healthy new growth of pastureland.

Pro: Burn bans save property, lives

Con: Burn bans penalize everyone, violate rights



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