In March of 2006, around a million acres burned in the Texas Panhandle. Many ranches were devastated and our Donley county ranch lost about 20% of its acres. Had it not been for the continued work of firefighters and cowboys and their hours without sleep, many more acres and livestock would have been lost.
Firefighting was both low tech and high tech. Wind changes were most beneficial.
Water was drawn from the McLean Feedyard lagoon to drop on the fire. This was fortunate as there were few lakes available due to the absence of rainfall since last summer. Photos by Alice LaRoe.
Helicopter on the ranch.
With no grass cover, the burned area will be subject to sandstorms. If there are not good spring rains, more damage may come from the wind than was created by the fire. Above photos from Mark Mitchell at Borger.
|Some cattle survived the fire. We moved them as soon as we could, for there was no feed.|
|We received rain one week after the fire. If there is time before we have more winds, the land will heal. The above photos are south of McLean.|
|Black is the predominant color.|
With the rains one week after the fire, we have hope. Our plan is to lay the land out except where there is cheat grass seed (annual rye). Where there is cheat grass, we will graze for three weeks starting in April, then we will rest. Where there is not cheat grass, land will be rested until the grass gets a healthy start.
We will post photos to show the healing of the ranch.
Controlled burns are as beneficial as wildfires are harmful. The Panhandle Livestock Association started the Texas Panhandle Prescribed Burn Association to promote safe controlled burns.
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