Gov. Laura Kelly announces creation of wildfire task force

Gov. Laura Kelly recently announced the creation of the Governor’s Wildfire Task Force, a group of leaders from across the state, to create recommendations for how Kansas communities can better prevent, respond to, and recover from wildfires.

“Far too many times in recent years, we’ve seen the devastating toll wildfires take on our communities,” said Kelly. “We’re doing everything we can to better respond to these disasters, and I am confident the wildfire task force will improve how we support our communities before, during, and after wildfires. I look forward to receiving its recommendations.”

Several parts of Kansas have experienced large-scale wildfires in the last 10 years, causing catastrophic financial losses and threatening the safety of residents, fire fighters, and first responders. The Governor’s Wildfire Task Force will take a comprehensive look at mitigating wildfire threats, review the role that local governments and state officials play in responding to such emergencies, and address how these entities can provide more support to communities impacted by devastating wildfires.

The task force will be led by Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam and appointments include representatives from local, state and federal agencies and organizations which have played an active role in responding to wildfires across the state, along with several state legislators.

Critical issues that will be assessed and addressed by the task force include the circumstances that can lead to wildfires and cause them to expand, specific regions or locations within Kansas that are most vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires, and ways that officials can better respond to wildfires in the future.

Prior to the completion of the task force’s report outlining recommendations, the public will have the opportunity to provide input on how public officials and the private sector can work together to better prepare for future wildfire threats, develop emergency response plans, and recover from wildfire disasters.