The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is letting Kansas residents access the state's smoke modeling tool earlier than it has in the past.
KDHE is allowing access starting Saturday because, it says, drought conditions have improved across much of the state. It also anticipates increased burning when compared to the last two years because of ongoing drought, which has coupled with hefty rains last summer to increase what firefighters call the fuel load.
KDHE is taking this step about two weeks ahead of when it allowed access last year.
Lyon County Extension ag agent Brian Rees tells KVOE News the smoke management tool can help area farmers and ranchers estimate just how much smoke can come from their pasture burns.
The online smoke management tool at www.ksfire.org is part of the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, which is designed to let ag producers continue the longstanding practice of burning -- thus providing better forage for area cattle and controlling invasive plant species -- while keeping air quality as far east as Tennessee at federally-approved levels.
Burn restrictions in Lyon, Chase, Greenwood and other Flint Hills counties go into effect next month. During April, landowners can only burn pasture and rangeland. There are some exceptions, including legal residential trash burning, fires for outdoor cooking including campfires and fires for ceremonial purposes.
For more information about the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, go online to www.ksfire.org.