Two bills promoting responsible prescribed burning received a public hearing in the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee Wednesday morning.
Both bills would indirectly influence the ease with which landowners could use this wildfire prevention technique on their land.
Another bill, SB 764, from state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, limits the liability from prescribed burning on government-owned agricultural lands. This would make it easier for the government to use the practice, even under a burn ban.
State Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, introduced the bill on behalf of Sen. Watson. He says a lot of work has ben done to help prevent wildfires in rural areas, but more still has to be done to safeguard more densely-populated areas.
“[This bill] addresses that shortfall by allowing counties to self-insure,” he says. “Prescribed burns are one of the preferred ways to prevent wildfires and this just deals with the insurance aspects of that.”
That bill also received support from the City of Austin and the Texas Forestry Association.
Advocates of prescribed burning say burning off dry grass can help prevent wildfires by taking away the fire’s fuel.
“It takes three things for a wildfire to start,” Doherty says, “Oxygen, ignition and fuel, and if any one of those three are missing, you’re not going to have a fire!”
Both bills passed through Senate Committees with unanimous votes. but were left pending in the House Committee today.