A dozen local landowners—some with lawyers in tow—filed into the commissioners courtroom Monday morning, to weigh in on two agenda items related to the controversial topic of prescribed burns.
An outdoor burn ban has been in effect in Hemphill County since Dec. 11, when the court reinstated the countywide prohibition. In doing so, commissioners cited high winds and steadily-expanding drought conditions as the impetus for the ban, which also requires any landowner interested in performing a prescribed burn to seek a site-specific exemption in order to proceed.
Hemphill County AgriLife Agent Andy Holloway and local rancher Adam Isaacs—neither of whom were present in court—had requested an exemption in order to conduct a prescribed burn training session on the Isaac Ranch, east of town, sometime in the next couple of months.
In addition, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had notified commissioners that it had developed plans for a site-specific prescribed burn at the Gene Howe Wildlife Management area on Lake Marvin Road.
Both proposals came under fire from the contingent of landowners—most of them ranchers—in attendance, who expressed concern about the area’s unpredictable weather conditions, the absence of any measurable moisture for the last 90 days, and more specifically, the March 2008 prescribed burn by TPWD at the Gene Howe WMA, which escaped control . . . .
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