Sunflower Horizons

KDHE says grassland burns in Flint Hills sent ozone levels above national pollution standards

April 14, 2011


Farmers burn Flint Hills grasslands in 2010

The burning of Flint Hills grasslands takes place every spring and Chase County farmer Larry Soyez was one setting several hundred acres on fire Saturday, April 10, 2010. Enlarge video

— The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says grassland burning in the Flint Hills sent ozone levels above national pollution standards in several areas this month.

KDHE says readings showed the excessive ozone Tuesday in Shawnee County and April 6 in Linn and Sedgwick counties. Higher-than-normal levels of particulate matter also were recorded.

Farmers and ranchers burn the grasslands to provide better forage for cattle and control some plant species.

Tom Gross, of the department's air bureau, says the readings are disappointing. But Gross also says the agency believes a smoke management plan approved in December will cut down on such incidents in the future.

The plan allows ranchers to continue spring burning but restricts other burning in 12 counties in the Flint Hills and four near Kansas City and Wichita.


Joe Blackford II 7 years ago

Native American-set fires & lightning strikes, are believed to have resulted in grasses evolving to withstand burns on an avg. of ~ 3 years. NAs primarily followed the herds during grazing periods, rather than have uncontrolled burns (as many recent fires have become).

Controlled burns should be limited to ~ 3 year cycles. Anything more frequent = for-profit only motive.

Chase Co. is predominately owned by non-residents, but the residents fought the Flint Hills Nat'l. Monument tooth & nail.

Strong City lost its Pizza Hut this past year. Costs too much in gas $ to commute to another county to work AND buy pizza.

Those ranch "profits" (read: tax write-offs) don't trickle down much in Chase Co.

Manhattan has had a haze since April 6, either smoke or the constant PR hot gases on the KBA & NBAF being blessings & not a pandemic-in-waiting.

gr 7 years ago

"Controlled burns should be limited to ~ 3 year cycles. Anything more frequent = for-profit only motive."

Huh? Burning for profit - how does that work?

If it's good for the pasture, why wouldn't you want to do it every year?

jafs 7 years ago

Just because it's good for it every 3 years doesn't necessarily mean it's good every year.

An occasional glass of wine may be good for you, but constantly drinking wine isn't.

verity 7 years ago

"Maybe burn it with organic fire?"

Now that's just funny!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Did you even read the article? There are no restrictions on burning the prairie. The restrictions are for other types of burning during the period of time that the grasslands are burned.

imastinker 7 years ago

Maybe we should pave the flint hills! That would cut down on ozone production!

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Maybe they should use spotted owls to beat out the flames.

Vinny1 7 years ago

LOL. That is all this "story" deserves.

statesman 7 years ago

OLETIMER, Its NOT KDHE who's setting the air standards, its at the federal level through the Environmental Protection Agency. At least get your facts straight before you run off at the mouth.

Tony Kisner 7 years ago

What did it cost us to figure out fire causes smoke?

Looking for budget cuts?

gr 7 years ago

I thought the KDHE and EPA were more worried about CO2 than anything of a health concern.

blindrabbit 7 years ago

Let's use our heads folks; to solve the smoke problem related to burning the Flint Hills every so often; just build lots of them wind turbines out there! The revolving blades will act like fans to disperse the smoke, and the sightly towers will help break up the monotony of the barren grasslands. As an added bonus we will capture they wind energy! Please pass this idea on to Smilin Sam!

squarepusher 7 years ago

Why is there even a discussion about this? Burning is natural to this type of environment. Whether it is set by man or by nature, it still burns and releases natural toxins into the ozone. Another pointless topic.

squarepusher 7 years ago

It's the fuel toxins from burning that are not natural.

number1jayhawker 7 years ago

How much fertilizer, diesel fuel and other man made products does burning the fields save?

Seems like where ever the pastures are burned, they come back greener than before and with less weeds and small saplings. I would think that would save on fertilizer and weed and sapling chemicals. Looks like a win win situation to me.

verity 7 years ago

If I recall correctly from articles in past years, the problem is that KC has high pollution, so the Flint Hills burning puts it over the limit. Seems like this is a KC problem that they want to foist off on somebody else---and it's only for a few weeks a year.

Once the native prairie is destroyed, you can never get it back to what it was. Some plants are gone forever.

"Seems like where ever the pastures are burned, they come back greener than before and with less weeds and small saplings." That's the whole point in burning them---it's the only way to keep them healthy.

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