Kansas Forest Service

Elly Sneath / Kansas State University Research and Extension

WICHITA, Kansas — Trees improve air quality. They keep people and homes cool with shade. They block the breezes that rake across the Kansas plains.

New research suggests the trees planted by people who filled up Kansas over the last century-plus also made the region more susceptible to hard-to-fight fires.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism stands to lose millions of dollars after record spring rains led to park closures, property damage and washed-out roads.

Roy Anderson / Oklahoma Highway Patrol/Oklahoma Forestry Services

One year and nearly a half million torched acres after the Starbuck wildfire, strong winds blow across a parched Kansas landscape.