Texas Forest Service Grants

The Texas Forest Service is trying to head off a potential fire danger disaster in east Texas this summer, with financial assistance for areas where debris from Hurricane Rita is still creating a fire hazard. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell explains.

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Hurricane Rita blew down millions of trees in east and southeast Texas in September of 2005, and outside cities and towns, out in the country, most of those trees are still lying there where they fell, dead and decaying. Jan Fulkerson of the Texas Forest Service says it's a huge fire hazard.

"Once you have all of those trees and vegetation down on the ground it's dead. It becomes available fuel for a fire. It presents a possible hazard."

Despite the hot dry summer last year, and all the wildfires in north and west Texas, there were no major fires in east Texas, and Fulkerson says that was just luck. She says they would rather not go into another summer with all that dry dead wood on the ground, so the Forest Service is providing grants to help pay for removing it.

"It's going to be municipalities, nonprofit groups, it could be neighborhood groups. One of the requirements is that they have to have a tax ID number to qualify for these grants."

The grants range from one thousand to five thousand dollars, and they can be used to pay for professional tree removers, pruning, equipment rental or to buy materials for education programs on fire danger mitigation. To apply for the grants, Fulkerson says qualified groups can contact the Texas Forest Service in Conroe at 936-273-2261. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.