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Archive for Wednesday, April 14, 2010

With the arrival of spring, annual burns going on in Flint Hills, Baker Wetlands

Horses graze in a pasture in Chase County as crews begin a burn of the field Saturday, April 14, 2010. The annual spring burning of the Flint Hills has been taking place this month to clear the way for new growth.The Flint Hills covers approximately 4.5 million acres, and each year as many as 2 million acres are burned.

Horses graze in a pasture in Chase County as crews begin a burn of the field Saturday, April 14, 2010. The annual spring burning of the Flint Hills has been taking place this month to clear the way for new growth.The Flint Hills covers approximately 4.5 million acres, and each year as many as 2 million acres are burned.

April 14, 2010, 9:09 a.m. Updated April 14, 2010, 5:34 p.m.

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Spring burning

The annual burning of portions of the Baker Wetlands took place most of the day Wednesday. Smoke from the controlled burn could be seen from many parts of Lawrence.

Former Lawrence High school biology teacher Ken Highfill was photographing the burning of the Baker Wetlands Wednesday, April 14, 2010. The annual burn took place between Haskell Avenue. and Louisiana Street, south of 31st Street.

Former Lawrence High school biology teacher Ken Highfill was photographing the burning of the Baker Wetlands Wednesday, April 14, 2010. The annual burn took place between Haskell Avenue. and Louisiana Street, south of 31st Street.

The sky fills with smoke during prairie burning in the Flint Hills Saturday, April 14, 2010. In March a state Senate committee approved a resolution aimed at exempting burning in the Flint Hills from federal environmental restrictions. Ranchers support the resolution, but environmentalists don't. In past years, smoke drifting from the burning has affected air quality in the Kansas City and Wichita areas.

The sky fills with smoke during prairie burning in the Flint Hills Saturday, April 14, 2010. In March a state Senate committee approved a resolution aimed at exempting burning in the Flint Hills from federal environmental restrictions. Ranchers support the resolution, but environmentalists don't. In past years, smoke drifting from the burning has affected air quality in the Kansas City and Wichita areas.

Ranchers burn the Flint Hills Saturday, April 10, 2010. The annual burns help return nutrients in the soil and promote grass growing, but have been criticized for the pollution it generates in larger communities in eastern Kansas, like the Kansas City metro area.

Ranchers burn the Flint Hills Saturday, April 10, 2010. The annual burns help return nutrients in the soil and promote grass growing, but have been criticized for the pollution it generates in larger communities in eastern Kansas, like the Kansas City metro area.

Flint Hills farmer Larry Soyez is setting the prairie on fire.

Dragging a gasoline-dripping “fire stick” behind a four-wheeler last weekend, Soyez burned about 1,000 acres of Chase County pasture, part of an annual ritual to rejuvenate the green grass that beef cattle love.

Clouds of smoke look like air pollution to some.

“I know it reduces the air quality but I think it’s more environmentally friendly than spraying our pastures every year and putting tons of chemicals on all this grassland,” Soyez said.

It was much the same story Wednesday morning just south of Lawrence, where Roger Boyd, director of the Baker Wetlands, was burning at the wetlands.

“The only way we can manage the native plants and promote the growth of beneficial plants — prairie plants, native plants — is basically to burn it,” Boyd said.

Boyd said the dilemma is managing natural areas when people live nearby.

“At some point we’ll have to develop a compromise,” he said. “We try to burn when the smoke’s not going to blow into Lawrence or it’s going to blow through so fast that it’s going to have minimal impact.”

In March, a Kansas Senate committee approved a resolution aimed at exempting burning in the Flint Hills from federal environmental restrictions.

Comments

bendover61 4 years, 8 months ago

Don't they know that the area is a green habitat zone for all kinds of animals, this destruction by humans must stop.

paisley 4 years, 8 months ago

Tax somebody a dollar per square foot! Talk about second hand smoke! This one you can't get away from. Cough, cough.

Mark Thompson 4 years, 8 months ago

Isn't the Baker Wetlands in South Lawrence? And we're surprised that smoke can be seen there? Maybe it's just me, but I find that funny.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 8 months ago

ticks.. gods greatest accomplishment....

Vinny1 4 years, 8 months ago

Don't ever dare build a much needed road through there!!!!

pace 4 years, 8 months ago

Isn't it windy for that? Love the wingnuts hatred and snide is easier than smart, too little time to grow up?

Clark Coan 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope Roger Boyd doesn't burn the boardwalk again. Why is he burning it off anyway? He wants Baker to get over a $1 million so the SLT can go through the deepest part of the wetlands and take out the boardwalk.

IdahoWinds 4 years, 8 months ago

Quivira - What swamp sand have you had your head in anyway. Just what in the world do think is the alternative to burning. Have you given that ANY serious thought. Prairie, and the Baker Wetlands contain significant quantities of prairie, can not tolerate very many years without either burning or mowing or grazing. Neither grazing or mowing is compatible with wetlands so the only realistic management technique left is burning. And in regards to the SLT - taxpayers will pay Baker University, not Boyd, way more than $1 million to build the SLT on their property. Have you forgotten they offered HINU over $10 million at one time. Who ever gave you the idea that the 32nd Street alignment was the "deepest part of the Wetland"? Did you get that from Mike Caron - The knower of all truth about the Wakarusa Wetlands (where ever that is?) - just ask him. Take a ruler out there sometime and measure each of the pools and then try to tell us that the Boardwalk area is the deepest. Get a clue before you spout off your trivally jealous comments!! Oh yeah, in case you weren't aware - there is a new boardwalk at the restoration site already....so what are you complaining about, it obviously is not because you have a better management plan. Maybe you were going to suggest that Baker officials should try grazing with Asian Water Buffalo - they simply love wetlands, and joggers, and kids, and dogs - they're quite compatible with nothing! When you finish you're granola, go hug a cattail, or a tree. Whatever!

yankeevet 4 years, 8 months ago

yes; what about those poor kansas ticks????

HOMETOWNBOY 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope all you so called "Green" people realize that mother nature use to manage the prarie with fire. It is the "Natural" way! To many times people jump on the band wagon without doing research and learning how nature works. If you want it to return to it's natural state then move back to what ever country your ancestors came from so this one can return to the Native Americans and the Buffalo!

littleredbud 4 years, 8 months ago

The annual use of fire to burn off the dead tops of prairie grasses also helps limit the spread of the invasive plants. The reason invasive plants are able to spread is given the following article - Birds Help Spread Invasive Plant Species, Large Numbers of Berries are Dispersed through Feeding by Birds http://plant-ecology.suite101.com.

The conversion of an area from prairie grasses to wooded area would greatly diminish the flint hills area to help provide an economic foundation for this area's economy. Looking out the window of a car traveling on Interstate 70, a person can see where whole pastures are being slowly converted to wooded areas.

The rural citizens of Kansas Flint Hills region raise cattle for a reason. Almost everyone I know likes the taste of a hamburger, steak, etc. They are providing a product that people want.

Therefore I am willing to tolerate a few smoke haze filled days in exchange for an area economy that is healthy.

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