More Flint Hills burning expected

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EL DORADO, Kan. -- Smoke is already arising from some Flint Hills pastures. As the weather warms in April we can expect more pastures to be set afire to make way for new growth.

Friday morning rangers at the El Dorado State Park were burning 548 acres of land used to grow prairie hay.

"So everybody is ready to go," says Butler County Extension Agriculture agent Dave Keller.

Keller says this could be a busy spring for burning pastures in the Flint Hills. Here's why he says, "Because of the drought."

Here's the explanation. The drought prevented grass to grow as much and so ranchers didn't have as much reason to burn in recent years. But then rains returned last summer and fall in the region which, Keller says, promoted some last season growth even after cattle had been moved. He says, "So we had a lot of regrowth last fall."

Keller says, "But that means we've got an extreme amount of dead grass or fuel load out there."

Keller estimates only ten percent of the grasslands in Butler County were burned in recent years during the drought. He's expecting a rebound in prescribed agriculture burning this spring. "Oh we'll see a lot more."

During the entire month of April, counties which include the Flint Hills and Sedgwick County, will ban open burning accept for the allowed agriculture pasture burning.

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