Residents from Bourbon, Linn and Crawford counties attended a class Monday afternoon giving them information on how to properly burn on their property in a way that is safe, legal and beneficial to their land and wildlife.
Christopher Petty of the Kansas State University extension office said he and Bourbon County Emergency Manager Will Wallis began planning for such a gathering almost a year ago to inform the public prior to the burning season, which begins to pick up in March.
Petty said their goals for the meeting were twofold: to teach ranchers, farmers and property owners how to burn properly and to support local fire departments.
“Burning taxes the small rural fire departments when they don’t know about it,” Petty said.
Wallis encouraged those present to call the local dispatch anytime they plan on burning. The dispatchers can then give them suggestions on whether it is safe to burn while also getting the location so the fire department is aware and can be prepared to help if needed.
Jason Hartman of the Kansas State Forest Service spoke about the regulations, permits and liability issues that go with burning as well as basic information such as the reasons for burning, which might include preparation for planting, better grazing, to improve or get rid of vegetation and reduce risk of wildfire.
“Every carefully prescribed fire is a wildfire prevented,” Hartman said.
Depending on the objective of the prescribed burnings, Hartman said burnings should be done at certain times throughout the year, with its effectiveness based on the season, weather, vegetation, management and size and intensity of the fire.
Deon Steinle of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service said those burning property also need to recognize that their burn will affect the wildlife of that area as well and is capable of either damaging or improving their habitat.
Drew Albert of the National Weather Service out of Springfield, Mo., reminded participants that weather plays a key role in deciding when to burn, since temperature, wind, humidity and drought conditions have an impact on the safety of burning as well as the direction the smoke will travel.
“We can be wrong,” Albert said of himself and others involved in forecasting the weather. “So you really have to keep getting updates.”
Joe Ludlum of the Bourbon County Conservation District provided a list of equipment available to rent while Dane Varney of the National Resources Conservation Service gave information on how to conduct a safe and controlled burn, including what equipment and crew is needed.