Balancing Earth, Air, and Fire In the Kansas Flint Hills
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For more: http://www.extension.org/67588 Native Americans placed great value on the four elements of life, earth, water, air and fire. They recognized, as we do today, that fire is the most powerful ...
For more: http://www.extension.org/67588 Native Americans placed great value on the four elements of life, earth, water, air and fire. They recognized, as we do today, that fire is the most powerful land management tool. The 4.8 million acre Flint Hills region of Kansas is the largest remaining expanse of tallgrass prairie in North America. Prescribed fire is routinely practiced in the region to enhance livestock forage quality, control invasive species, provide grassland wildlife habitat and improve plant vigor. But where there is fire, there is smoke, and there are public health concerns when excessive smoke is in the atmosphere. Ground level ozone can have serious public health consequences and major cities adjacent to the Flint Hills, have recorded excessive ozone levels resulting from Flint Hills prescribed fire. A collaborative effort including the Kansas Dept of Health & Environment, EPA, K-State Research & Extension, Kansas Livestock Association and other groups completed the Flint Hills smoke management plan in December, 2010, with the objective of reducing health concerns from prescribed fire, while retaining it as a land management tool. The plan established a website of "best smoke management practices" and a comprehensive education and outreach effort for land managers was implemented, involving prescribed fire schools, news articles and radio airplay. Results of the plan are positive, indicating that Kansas has responded to the smoke issue appropriately and will retain prescribed fire as a management practice that maintains both the tallgrass prairie of the hills, and the air quality of adjacent metro areas. The inter-relationships of earth, water, air and fire are continual, each impacting the other. The Kansas Flint Hills now has a plan to ensure harmony of these essential elements of life.
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