Burning banned for April

Chad Frey
Butler County Times Gazette

A burn ban for the month of April has been imposed in 16 counties by the State of Kansas and Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management.

Open burning is banned for the month of April in 16 Kansas counties.

Counties included in the April burn ban are Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cowley, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Johnson, Lyon, Marion, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley, Sedgwick, Wabaunsee, and Wyandotte.

Burning that will continue to be allowed in these counties during April include agricultural burning related to the management of prairie or grasslands (range or pasture management) and conservation reserve program (CRP) burning activities. Restricted activities include burning of materials such as land clearing debris, crop residues, construction debris, fire fighter training burns, and yard waste.

The state regulations were implemented in response to the Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan. The plan was implemented to address concerns that smoke from Flint Hills agricultural burning during April impacts urban areas by significantly increasing ozone levels, specifically in the Wichita and Kansas City areas.

This week KDHE issue air quality advisories, when conditions were ideal for burning in the Flint Hills and surrounding areas  April 1. The burning activity combined, with remnant smoke from the previous day's activity, was expected to lead to elevated air pollutant levels throughout parts of the Flint Hills and central Kansas.

The Air Quality Index ranged from Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, and even Unhealthy near burn activity. Current air quality and AQI can be viewed at https://www.airnow.gov/.

According to KDHE, burning within the Flint Hills occurs annually to help preserve the tallgrass prairie, control invasive species such as Eastern Red Cedar and Sumac, and provide better forage for cattle. Prescribed burning minimizes risk of wildfires and is effective in managing rangeland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas and can be carried long distances.

Prescribed burns release large amounts of particulate matter (PM) and substances that can form ozone. Particulate matter and ozone can cause health problems, even in healthy individuals. Common health problems include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children, and elderly may experience worse symptoms.

KDHE issued steps to protect health on days when smoke is present in the community:

Healthy people should limit or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.

People with respiratory or heart related illnesses should remain indoors.

Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running air conditioners with air filters.

Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

KDHE and partners continue to implement the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan to help mitigate air quality impacts that result from burning. The plan includes recommendations to minimize and disperse the smoke produced by burning.

For more information about the burning in the Flint Hills and the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, please visit the following website: www.ksfire.org