The Toll

Last summer's drought cost Texas $253.1 million before the wildfires: $7.62 billion in lost crops overall

Last summer's drought cost Texas $253.1 million before the wildfires: $7.62 billion in lost crops overall

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The drought hit the agriculture sector hard, with $7.62 billion in reported losses. Other state agencies and universities spent $253.1 million on drought-related activities and services.  Photo by dasroofless/Flickr

Last summer's drought and resulting wildfires were devastating, and the financial toll should come as no surprise.

Still, a report recently released by the Texas' Legislative Budget Board shows that state agencies shouldered large expenses during fiscal year 2011, which ended Aug. 31.

That's before the wildfires that ravaged Bastrop and the Houston area

 The bulk of that number, a staggering $208.1 million, can be attributed to wildfire costs, with $196.8 million going to the Texas Forest Service's fire fighting expenses.

 The LBB report details that state agencies and universities spent an estimated $253.1 million on drought-related activities and services, including wildfire costs, administrative or program costs (such as groundskeeping, infrastructure costs and dead tree removal) and in impact on revenue generation. 

The bulk of that number, a staggering $208.1 million, can be attributed to wildfire costs, with $196.8 million going to the Texas Forest Service's fire fighting expenses. Groundskeeping at 16 higher education institutions totaled $1.4 million.

This pales in comparison to the economic losses incurred by the agriculture sector: In a March report, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service economists calculated $7.62 billion in lost crops and livestock in 2011.

Though Houston and much of East Texas is currently in the clear on the U.S. Drought Monitor, West Texas has already seen wildfires this month, and much of the Lone Star State falls under some stage of drought conditions.

Are we going to see a devastating summer this year, too? 

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