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Kansas rangelands embrace prescribed burns
Kansas Ag Connection - 02/29/2024

As spring approaches, Kansas prepares for the annual prescribed burning of its rangelands, particularly in the Flint Hills region. This practice, essential for the maintenance of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, helps control invasive species, promotes better cattle forage, and reduces wildfire risks.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is set to activate its smoke modeling tool in March, aiding landowners and managers in minimizing air quality impacts from the burns.

Prescribed fires are a critical tool for land management, covering an average of 2.2 million acres annually in Kansas and Oklahoma's Flint Hills. Jayson Prentice, a KDHE meteorologist, emphasizes the 14-year success of their smoke modeling resource in guiding the prescribed fire community towards responsible burning practices.

While beneficial for ecosystem management, prescribed burns can affect air quality, releasing particulate matter and other pollutants that contribute to ground-level ozone.

This can cause health issues such as eye irritation, coughing, and more severe conditions like bronchitis, affecting everyone, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, and children.

To safeguard community health during burning season, KDHE advises limiting outdoor activities, staying indoors, keeping indoor air clean, staying hydrated, and consulting a doctor if health symptoms arise.

For more detailed information on prescribed burning, the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, and related resources, visit the Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management Website.

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