As bad as the drought is in some areas, count your blessings: Wildfire can make it worse. Ask Justin Hansard, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for Montague County.
The week before Easter Sunday, wildfire swept through 45,000 acres of Montague County, destroying numerous homes, taking three lives, devastating rangeland and pastures, and burning as much as 1,000 miles of fencing to the ground.
"We had some relief; we had some rain that Sunday after," Hansard said. "Pastures are coming back, but we're still scared. We've got a lot of brown material out there, and we're still susceptible. We're still under a burn ban."
Fencing remains one of the biggest issues, Hansard said. The best estimate is the replacement cost for all damaged or destroyed fencing will be about $10 million.
Hay could be another issue as considerable grazing material was lost. But Hansard said hay donations have been rolling in, and that he's already distributed about 200 big round bales to producers. Those wishing to donate hay may contact Hansard at 940-894-2831 or [email protected].
"We've had more calls offering to donate hay than requesting it," Hansard said. "But it's still early. These guys are trying to put their fences up. They've had to send some of their cattle to other counties where there's pasture. But I imagine the next 30 to 45 days or so we'll find who needs hay."
In addition to questions about hay, livestock and fencing, Hansard said he's getting quite a few callers concerned about their trees.
"We're getting questions like ‘what's going to happen to my trees, now that the bark is popping off them and they look like toothpicks,’" he said.
To help deal with the drought, a number of state and federal agencies, led by AgriLife Extension, have formed the Drought Joint Information Center and launched a new public information Web site.