Smoke modeling, weather forecasts online

Given recent dry and warm conditions, prescribed fire activity in the Flint Hills and throughout the Plains region has begun, with ranchers and landowners using the practice to improve grazing distribution and decrease undesirable vegetation. In order to balance the use of prescribed fire with the need for clean air in downwind communities, those planning to burn should consider the Smoke Management Plan.

Through its voluntary approach, the plan leaves flexibility in the hands of the land manager, but puts the responsibility on him or her to make wise decisions. Resources available on will help ranchers prevent problematic smoke events in highly populated areas by giving them access to powerful online tools. One map shows the potential smoke impact of burning in a specific area on urban air quality. A smoke modeling tool allows someone to see where smoke will go from a fire in a specific location.

Last year, more than 2.6 million acres were burned in 17 Kansas counties making up the Flint Hills. This was up from just over a million acres in 2018. Drought conditions and less than ideal weather in 2018 led to the fewest number of Flint Hills acres burned since 2013.