EPA Recommends Prescribed Burns as Most Effective, Natural Range Management System in UseMon, 03 Dec 2018 10:46:51 CST
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn recently spoke with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford, about the importance of prescribed burning. Not only does this practice help the vitality and preservation of the ecology in our natural landscapes, it benefits farmers and ranchers and local communities, by ensuring that healthy rangelands are maintained for future use. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“We see it (prescribed burning) as being valuable to agriculture; and we see it valuable to the environment,” said Gulliford, who oversees EPA operations in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. “The Flint Hills and the Great Plains were really matured under a fire system. Pre-settlement, fires are what kept the woody species down and made the grazing lands that were then for buffalo, so productive.”
Now, as agriculture has been established in the area, Gulliford says the plains are just as productive for grazing cattle - and all thanks in large part to farmers and ranchers who have cooperated with the EPA to manage their lands with an effective controlled fire system. While, it is a highly efficient mode of range management, it is not without its challenges.
“When we do burn those areas, it generates a lot of smoke and air pollutants that can be a cause for problems in some of our large communities - but also in small towns that are in the path of smoke as it moves forward,” he explained. “So, our goal is to work with producers at their discretion to time out the actual burning that occurs.”
Gulliford says the longer that timeframe can be extended throughout the spring or fall, the more control land managers have at reducing the volume of smoke generated. Through extensive coordination and collaboration, he says the system has become extremely beneficial as an effective and nature-mimicking solution.
“So, we get the value to protect the historic ecology of the Flint Hills, the value to agriculture of again grazing lands in the summer and then third, we are also then able to protect the health of citizens who live in the path of smoke that comes off those burns,” Gulliford said. “So, it’s a win-win-win hopefully and we’re really excited at how well Kansans are adopting this planned grazing program.”
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