Elkhart, KS— As part of the ongoing hazardous fuels reduction project, the Cimarron National Grassland will conduct four prescribed burns in Morton County, Kansas, beginning in March and continuing through spring, conditions permitting.

The locations of the four prescribed fires in Morton County are:

For both firefighter and public safety, grassland visitors can expect recurring closures to affected areas during fire and monitoring operations.

“Fire is a natural occurrence that many ecosystems rely on to function in a healthy manner,” said Acting Cimarron National Grassland District Ranger Jeff Outhier. “Historically, these ecosystems have experienced frequent, low-intensity fires that effectively cleaned the area of dead material, provided conditions for natural regeneration of native plants, and recycled nutrients back into the soil. By conducting these managed prescribed burns, we’re helping to preserve the health of the grasslands.”

The planned projects involve broadcast burning to enhance ecosystem health, improve Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat and reduce hazardous fuel accumulations. Skilled fire crews will be on-scene to ignite and monitor the burns.

To facilitate burning, each of the selected areas have been prepared in advance to ensure safe fire operations. These prescribed burns will help reduce grass fuel that poses a threat to farmland, ranchland and other values such as structures, fence lines and equipment.

Ignitions will occur only when weather and fuel conditions meet established parameters. Ignition and burning operations may continue for several days depending on the size of area being burned.

Smoke is a natural byproduct of fire and some amounts are unavoidable. However, fire managers and prescribed fire specialists look carefully at the proximity of communities and determine the least amount of smoke impact to the public during prescribed burning. The team will be monitoring smoke continually to evaluate impacts, which are expected to be low due to the remote locations of these prescribed burns. However, smoke may be visible from many locations during burning operations in the Morton County area. Smoke may also linger over the burn areas for a few days following initial ignitions.

Follow @PSICC_NF on Twitter for up-to-date information on this and other topics. Use #CimarronRDRx for information on the Cimarron Ranger District prescribed fire program.