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Energy and Environment

Kansas Agency Offers Assistance For Rangeland Burned In 2016 Wildfire

Wildfire3.jpg
Sean Sandefur
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KMUW/File photo
Thousands of acres of rangeland were burned in a wildfire last year.

A state conservation agency is offering financial assistance to help improve the rangeland that was affected by last year’s wildfire in southern Kansas.

The wildfire damaged more than 40 structures and thousands of miles of fencing, and killed hundreds of cattle in Barber and Comanche counties in March 2016. About 400,000 acres of land were burned, destroying pastures and trees.

The Kansas Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering $2 million over four years to help with conservation practices and range management.

Assistant State Conservationist Monty Breneman says farmers and ranchers can use the money to remove scorched tree carcasses that create environmental concerns.

"They have an opportunity now to continue with removal of the woody vegetation, the trees there, and hopefully have an opportunity to improve the overall range condition," Breneman says.

He says land owners can also put the money toward conservation practices such as brush management, firebreaks, prescribed grazing and prescribed burning. He says the three primary areas of resource concerns due to the wildfire are degraded plant condition on the rangeland, excessive plant-pest pressure and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife.

The agency's offices are taking applications for this year's funds until March 17.

Breneman says if the demand exceeds the initial allocation, the state conservationist will ask for more funding.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

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