Hutchinson Co. landowners eligible for free controlled burns

Hutchinson Co. landowners eligible for free controlled burns
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

HUTCHINSON COUNTY, TX (KFDA) - Some panhandle landowners will have the opportunity to protect their property and towns from wildfires without having to pay for it.

Hutchinson County continues working to make its communities as safe from wildfires as possible.

Borger is the first city in the country to be certified as Firewise, and just renewed its community wildfire protection plan.

And because of this work, the entire county could benefit from a new grant.

Hutchinson County is the only county in the panhandle where private landowners can now apply for the state to fund controlled burns on their land.

"The intent of the grant is to prevent catastrophic wildfire losses to communities, so a landowner who has property in proximity to a community, several houses something like that [can apply]," said Jason Whisler, Emergency Management Coordinator for Borger.

Thirty-one counties are competing for just over $20,000 in grant funding provided by the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Whisler thinks the severity of panhandle fires will give the county a good chance at getting some of this funding.

"You can't do a whole lot to stop a tornado if it's going to come down," said Whisler. "You can't do a whole lot for a hazardous material spill to prevent that from happening in your community. Wildfires are one of the unique natural threats that we face that we can do something about."

Landowners have until the end of the month to fill out an application complete with a burn plan, location coordinates and a contract with a certified burn manager.

The grant would then reimburse the landowners, who will be notified if they've received funding by December.

Whisler hopes this will inspire other counties in the panhandle to take more precautions in preventing wildfires.

"It's not so much why are we doing it, it's why are other cities other communities not doing it?"

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