Kansas officials recommend voluntary reduction in controlled burns because of COVID-19

photo by: Richard Gwin/Journal-World File Photo

In this file photo from March 2016, a land owner conducts a controlled burn on property northwest of Lawrence.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kansas health and agriculture officials are strongly encouraging all land owners and managers to voluntarily reduce the number of acres burned this spring.

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary, said in a news release Thursday that the pandemic could potentially overwhelm the state’s medical facilities, and any additional respiratory concerns that could be produced from breathing smoke from controlled burns need to be mitigated. Common health problems related to smoke can include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis, and individuals with respiratory issues, including COVID-19, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and the elderly may experience worse symptoms.

The release also says that it is critical that land managers in areas included in the Smoke Model available online at ksfire.org consult the model if they do choose to burn. The model indicates the level at which a burn would contribute to urban area air quality problems. Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam urges land managers to refrain from burning, especially if their area is predicted in the large contribution range, which is notated in red.


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