“I think I am going to have to read the Farmers Almanac instead of listening to the National Weather Service and (TV meteorologist) Dale Nelson,” said David Morgan, emergency management coordinator.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to lift the ban; however, it came with a request from Bee County Fire Marshal Ken Orrell.
“People need to notify the sheriff’s office where and when they are burning,” Orrell said.
Commissioners, at Morgan’s request, had imposed the ban on outdoor burning about a month ago “because of the extremely dry conditions and no rains in the foreseeable future according to the National Weather Service.
“In the last three weeks, we have seen that not come to fruition.”
Morgan said that these rains have been slow and steady, which is good because it stays in the ground and doesn’t run off.
“The farmers are going to be real happy,” he said. “However, the ranchers aren’t real happy.”
While the rain is good for both, ranchers need some time to burn their land in preparation for the spring planting.
“This is the time of year they like to burn off their hay fields to get prepared for the spring growth to get rid of stickers and brush,” Morgan said.
He said that he has already been receiving calls from ranchers asking if special permits could be issued that would allow them to burn their fields.
“We don’t issue permits,” he said.
Because of that need, Morgan said that this would be a good time to let these, and the rest of the county, begin burning.
“You will notice we are in a very low fire danger situation at this time,” he said. “I think this would be a good time to be good community partners with our ranchers and lift the burn ban.
“The moisture is sufficient to prevent any dramatic wildfires.”
Morgan added that Bee and Refugio counties were the only two counties in this area which still had a ban in effect.
Goliad County commissioners likewise Monday lifted their burn ban after only a week.
The rest, he said, had either lifted or never implemented bans.
Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez asked how Morgan would get the word to the community and the fire chiefs that the ban was lifted.
“We will notify all of the fire chiefs,” Morgan said. “We also have our emergency notification system that the court approved. It is up and operational for messages to the public.”
During a meeting earlier this month, commissioners approved a new system from Blackboard Connect.
This system allows county officials to issue emergency information to residents via an automated message to a home or cell phone, along with a text message or fax.
Morgan, during that meeting, said that this same system could also be used by the county to send important information such as the existence of a burn ban in the county.
Morgan also said that the phone numbers in the system were taken from 911 records but eventually residents will be able to add additional numbers to the system themselves.
That part, he said, is still in the works but will be completed soon.
In other news, commissioners:
• Approved the distribution of money from the permanent school fund to Pettus and Skidmore-Tynan ISDs.
• Approved setting hearing dates before the county can make improvements and take over maintenance of River Oaks Drive, currently a private subdivision road. Hearings are planned for March 14 and 28. Notices are expected to appear in this paper on Feb. 11 and 16.
• Approved various items relating to the Bee Community Action Agency.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.