|Commissioner Staples meeting with landowners in April, 2011|
In a state as big as Texas, it’s still hard to escape the devastation of last year’s historic wildfires. From charred land and destroyed homes to lost fences and uprooted livelihoods, the damage persists nearly one year later.
This is the story in Jeff Davis County. Recently I toured the area and spoke with local leaders and landowners. I witnessed wreckage and loss, but I also saw resolve and hope. People are struggling, but they’re also determined.
Joining me for a roundtable discussion were Jeff Davis County Judge George Grubb, Sen. Jose Rodriguez and local residents. After hearing several stories, I am convinced the local officials and residents know better than anyone how best to protect their community from repeat rounds of relentless fires. They know the land and have the initiative, but they cannot go it alone.
Like citizens in many other Texas communities, they will need coordinated help from statewide leaders and first responders, which is why I recently established the new statewide Texas Wildfire Prevention Task Force. The task force was convened to maximize fire prevention and mitigation strategies across the state in an effort to protect Texas citizens and property before the fire sparks.
The people of Jeff Davis are recovering and rebuilding. It’s my hope that the Texas Wildfire Prevention Task Force will protect them and the rest of the state as we move into the future. For more on the trip to West Texas you can watch this story from KXAN-TV.