Nick Garza was nominated for our get to know the fire community series by John Weir.
Nick Garza is a Senior Research Associate with AgriLife Research at the Sonora Research Station, Sonora Texas. We asked him about his thoughts on working fire in Texas.
Please describe your professional interests and expertise related to wildland fire?
My interests tend to run towards equipment design and development. I like to work with effective and economical sprayers and modifications to ATV’s to make them more suitable for prescribed burning.
What changes have you seen in the fire landscape over your career?
In the early 1990’s people were beginning to show greater interest in fire for management. As more has been learned about fire behavior people are becoming more comfortable with it. However, as populations increase there are more and more conflicts between those people wanting to use fire and people who fear or don’t understand fire.
How has fire science played a role in decision making at the field station and in the neighborhood?
It has definitely created more interest in the neighborhood, especially since we are still largely rural and smoke is not as much of a concern. At the Research Station it has allowed us to explore the use of livestock (cattle, sheep and especially goats) to extend the useful life of prescribed fire. That is important because this area still has strong ties to range animal agriculture.
What are the most important questions we need to answer for grassland fire ecology today?
What knowledge can we use to make prescribed fire safer?
How can we ease the fears of the general public towards the use of prescribed fire?
Can you describe a particular finding that you think has been ground breaking for grassland management?
That summer fire is not the death sentence for warm season perennial grasses it was once thought to be.