The historic Texas drought has been the worst stretch of downright dry in the 116 years of official weather records in Texas. Multitudes of wildfires have occurred since last spring. Thousands of ranchers have run out pasture, hay, and even water for livestock. Millions of acres of crops have been abandoned.
Tired of surfing the Internet for drought- and wildfire-related public agency information? If so, then bookmark the Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ to find agency information currently available on those and other related hot topics.
The website is a no-frills information center activated during times of prolonged and widespread drought in Texas, according to Dr. Travis Miller, Texas AgriLife Extension Service drought information spokesman at College Station. It serves at the discretion of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
"This is the worst drought on record in many parts of the state," Miller notes. "And to add to the misery, well over 3.3 million acres of the state have burned so far this year. With statistics like that, it's all the more important to have accurate information that's readily accessible."
The Drought Joint Information Center, which hosts the website, is a group of state and federal agency public information officers, led by the Texas AgriLife Communications and activated by the division of emergency management in 2009 and again in 2011. Originally only for drought information, the wildfire information was added because the two calamities go hand-in-hand and share many commonalities, says Dr. Andy Vestal, Texas AgriLife Extension's emergency management coordinator headquartered at College Station.
The website is a central clearinghouse of drought/wildfire-related public information and education meant to help each of the participating agencies perform their designated public service roles, Vestal says.
All website information is public and it will be useful to producers, industry groups, county officials, media, AgriLife Extension agents, and others needing creditable, consistent drought-related information.
The website is divided into two distinct areas. The Resources on Drought section provides static and changing information drought ranging from stream-flow data, and weather information to links provided by participating agencies.
The News Updates/Situational Reports section features the latest items from participating agencies which are vetted and posted by AgriLife Communications.