Reno County Fire District #6

The uncertainty surrounding Gov. Sam Brownback's departure for an ambassador post and prison disturbances were among the top 10 stories in Kansas in 2017.

Brownback prepares to depart

Predictive Service, National Interagency Fire Center

For the third straight year, Kansans can expect a higher than average danger for wildland fire. 

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Record wildfires scorched south central and southwest Kansas in the last two years. The Kansas Legislature will investigate whether the state is equipped to fight such large fires.

According to the eight lawmakers pushing for the audit, in 2016 the Kansas Forest Service had about $1 million to spend on stopping wildfires – just a fraction of the budgets in better-prepared states.

Ranchers lost millions of dollars in fencing and livestock in 2016 and 2017.

Clark and Comanche counties alone saw more than half a million acres burned this spring.

File photo by Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News

The Great Plains are seeing more wildfires, according to a new study, leading researchers to ask why the fires are happening, and fire managers to examine what resources they will need to keep the blazes in check.

Wildfires burned through thousands of acres of Great Plains farm and ranch land in the 1980s. Today, wildfires are likely to char millions of acres.

There's a match going on, but this one is to help raise money for wildfire relief after more than a million and a half acres of crop and ranch land that was burned in four states.

Wildfires raged through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas last month leaving cattle and other livestock dead and burning farmland and fences.

Howard Buffet, a philanthropist, farmer and rancher, has promised matching dollars up to a million for wildfirerelieffund.org.

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Gena Kirk did not realize the largest wildfire in Kansas history was closing in on the Kirk Ranch in Clark County on March 6 until she got a call from her brother-in-law. After realizing that her herd was in danger, she jumped into her pickup and sped up the hill where several of her cattle were grazing.

As she herded her cattle onto a green wheat field that would not burn as easily as nearby dry grassland, winds gusting to 60 miles an hour fanned the flames quickly in her direction. 

Jennifer Bradford, flickr Creative Commons

Emergency grazing is now allowed on Conservation Reserve Program(CRP) lands in southwest Kansas. Ranchers suffered a huge loss of grazing area in the recent wildfires.

USDA Offers Additional Assistance To Wildfire Victims

Mar 22, 2017

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now offering additional assistance for farmers and ranchers affected by recent wildfires. More than 700,000 acres in 21 Kansas counties were scorched by a series of blazes that tore across the state.

The NRCS is offering $2 million in funding to restore cropland, rangeland, and forestland destroyed by the wildfires. The initiative also extends to Oklahoma, and Texas.

The agency is working with local conservation districts to identify specific concerns within various counties.

Reno County Fire District #6

Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill that will make it a little more affordable for people affected by wildfires to rebuild damaged fences.

The new Kansas law will create a sales tax exemption for materials purchased to replace burned fences. The bill moved incredibly fast, from a legislative perspective. The House and Senate approved it just last week.

There are programs at the federal level to help with recovery, but Gov. Brownback says this is something the state can do.

Reno County Fire District #6/Facebook

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is designating more than $6 million to help farmers and ranchers affected by recent wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The funding announced Tuesday will be distributed through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help restore grazing lands, rebuild fencing and protect damaged watersheds.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas says he is pleased USDA acted swiftly to aid producers recovering from the largest wildfire in state history.