The prescribed burning season is underway, with ranchers and landowners using the practice to improve grazing distribution and decrease undesirable vegetation. In order to balance the use of prescribed fire in the Flint Hills with the need for clean air in downwind communities, those planning to burn should consider the voluntary Smoke Management Plan.
Through its voluntary approach, the plan leaves flexibility in the hands of the land manager, but puts the responsibility on him or her to make wise decisions. Resources available at www.ksfire.org will help ranchers prevent problematic smoke events in highly populated areas by giving them access to powerful online tools. A map shows the potential smoke impact of burning in a specific area on urban air quality. The smoke modeling tool allows someone to see where smoke will go from a fire in a specific location.
Last year, more than one million acres were burned in 17 Kansas counties making up the Flint Hills, down from 2.2 million acres in 2017. Drought conditions and less than ideal weather for prescribed burning last year led to the fewest number of Flint Hills acres burned since 2013.