Ranchers and landowners facing a narrow window for prescribed burning should include the impact of smoke in any management decisions. Online tools at www.ksfire.org can be accessed in advance to predict smoke contributions from individual counties in the Flint Hills area, as well as the direction smoke will travel from a single burn. The online modeling tools are part of the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, which is a voluntary approach to maintaining air quality in downwind cities.
As an example, Wamego rancher Joe Carpenter explains how and why he uses the smoke modeling tools in a video appearing on the Kansas Beef Council Facebook page. His goal is to be a good, responsible neighbor to those in downwind communities.
While the plan leaves flexibility in the hands of those conducting prescribed burns, it suggests the practice should be avoided when prevailing conditions could cause smoke problems in highly populated areas.
Success of the plan is key to preventing regulation of burning by the Environmental Protection Agency. Government restrictions could be implemented if smoke exceedances from pasture burning frequently cause air quality problems in Wichita, Kansas City, Lincoln, NE, or other downwind cities.