wildfires

Mary Clarkin / The Hutchinson News

TOPEKA – Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Wednesday granting a sales tax exemption for rural fencing supplies and services purchased by wildfire victims.

“It doesn’t make up for what they’ve lost, but it’s a way that we can help ease the recovery for hardworking farmers and ranchers,” Brownback said at an afternoon ceremony in the Statehouse.

Lindsey Bauman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that more than $6 million in funding is now available for those affected by the wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The funding, delivered through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, will assist farmers and ranchers as they attempt to restore grazing lands, rehabilitate devastated landscapes, rebuild fencing and protect damaged watersheds, according to a news release.

Update: Fence rebuilding bill clears Legislature

Mar 20, 2017

Burned fencing lines U.S. 160 near Ashland on Thursday, March 9, 2017 following the March 6 wildfires in Clark County.Credit Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson NewsEdit | Remove

TOPEKA – A bill offering a state sales tax exemption on supplies and services to rebuild fences damaged by 2016 and 2017 wildfires cleared the Legislature on Friday morning.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the loss of grassland will mean financial losses for years to come for some ranchers in western and south central Kansas.

Clark County rancher Greg Goodnight is one of only a few ranchers who did not lose any cattle, but he did lose over 14,000 acres of grassland that forced him to round up his 294 cattle on Monday and send them to Dodge City to be sold.

news9.com

Kindhearted souls from across the country have banded together to help farmers and ranchers left reeling by the wildfires that ravaged over a million acres last week.

As Wide Open Country reports, one Texas rancher has donated $30,000 worth of hay to feed misplaced livestock. Ranchers across the Lone Star State have followed suit; since last week flatbeds stacked with hay have been seen rolling onto the Llano Estacado from points south.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

The last thing Greg Gardiner saw before everything went black was his brother Mark heading to the horse barn.

Fire and smoke was spreading through Clark County from the southwest Monday afternoon. By 3 p.m., the ranch was in the war zone. An orange firewall was heading toward his brother’s home as Greg pulled up with a truck and trailer to help save three horses.

“I knew it was too late,” Greg said.

Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

You can hear the emotion in Ashland Mayor Kendal Kay's voice as he tells about the worn-out rancher who showed up Tuesday - his home destroyed and almost all his cattle dead. 

But he wanted to know, as wildfires still burned across Clark County, where he could help.

"They lose their home, their ranch burns, and they will still try to figure out a way to help others," said Kay, who also is president of the Stockgrowers State Bank in Ashland. 

That is what living in a close-knit community in rural America is all about, he said.

Lindsey Bauman

Help is coming and is here – where the prairie is singed to the earth – and at all hours.

Jeff Kay was up at 2 a.m. Monday to help unload a couple of trucks carrying hay for ranchers affected by the Clark County wildfires.

“It’s unbelievable the way the farming and ranching community has come together,” said Kay, who operates Ashland Feed and Seed. “There are donations coming from all over the world.”

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

The Kansas House passed a bill Tuesday that provides a tax exemption on materials and services needed to rebuild or repair fencing for ranchers and farmers affected by wildfires

As The Wichita Eagle reports, lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon advanced House Bill 2387 with a 122-0 vote, after the Legislature set the bill on a fast track - bypassing its typical procedure - giving the legislation both early and final approval on Tuesday.

Lt. Seth Frizzell / Holcomb Community Fire Department

As fire crews in north central Oklahoma continues efforts to contain fires in Beaver, Harper and Woodward counties Tuesday, Kansas’ governor signed the final State of Disaster Emergency declaration for 20 Kansas counties affected by last week’s wildfires.

As The Oklahoma Forestry Service reports, the Northwest Oklahoma Complex was 63 percent contained Tuesday.

KCUR

TOPEKA – The Kansas House of Representatives conducted its 11 a.m. session Monday and then recessed until 4:45 p.m. That is intentionally aimed at speeding up procedures for House Bill 2387, which contains sales tax relief for those recovering from the wildfires.

"We want to fast track that bill," House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton said.

ARAH NISHIMUTA / Woodward News

When confronted with the level of tragedy wrought by last week’s wildfires, it is difficult to find a silver lining, but the generosity of others is providing just that.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, residents of Ashland, which was encircled by a fire that has burned over 60 percent of Clark County, Kansas, have been serving up to 600 meals per day to firefighters battling the blaze.

Bryan Thompson / Harvest Public Media

Wildfires that have been sweeping across the heart of cattle country since last weekend could decimate some ranchers’ herds. Fires have been reported in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

The largest of the fires spread from the Oklahoma Panhandle into southwest Kansas, and has consumed more than 800,000 acres of prime grassland. Todd Domer, of the Kansas Livestock Association, says the losses have been devastating.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

High Plains wildfires killed countless numbers of pigs, cattle and other livestock last week.

As Reuters reports, a wildfire killed thousands of hogs at Smithfield Foods, Inc.’s hog farm in Laverne, Okla.

Wildfires also killed close to 2,000 hogs at two of Seaboard Foods’ farms south of Perryton, Texas.

About 1.2 million acres burned in the Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and adjacent parts of southwestern Kansas within a 24-hour period last week.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management

As many of the grassfires in Kansas were brought under control by the end of last week, emergency workers and residents began picking up the pieces in Lane County, where an estimated 18,000 acres burned. An estimated 39,000 acres burned in neighboring Hodgeman and Ness counties.

A beautifully tough place to live

Mar 10, 2017
Sarah Nishimuta / Woodward News

It's hard for people who don't make their living on a ranch or farm, growing crops, grassland and cattle to understand how this week's fires have devastated residents here.

Last night I had someone who does not live here call me and try to console me by saying, "Well, ash is good for the grass." All I could say to that was "Wha?"

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

What's being called the Starbuck Fire in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma continued to burn on Thursday.

As ABC News in Amarillo reports, Beaver County Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Shadden said the fire was about 30 miles long and 25 miles wide as of Thursday morning, as crews continued to work on hot spots and flare-ups from the fire.

Lt. Seth Frizzel / Holcomb Community Fire Department

TOPEKA – Legislation is in the works that would provide tax assistance to farmers, ranchers, homeowners and utilities that have suffered losses from wildfires.

“We are working on it right now. We’re working with the Revisor’s to use similar language that we used last year,” said Rep. Ken Rahjes, R-Agra.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

The Rocky Mountains can be blamed for the 50 to 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that spread an unprecedented number of wildfires in the Sunflower State and other areas of the High Plains region over the past several days.

As the Wichita Eagle reports, low-pressure areas tend to set up just east of major mountain formations and that routinely occurs in eastern Colorado.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

Farmers are being hailed as heroes in the battle against a northeastern Colorado wildfire that broke out Monday.

As The Denver Post reports, as a wildfire fueled by high winds ripped across farm land northeast of Sterling in Logan County and rapidly approached the small town of Haxtun in Phillips County, farmers from the area drove their tractors to dig fire lines to aid a small army of volunteer firefighters.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

At least seven deaths, massive losses of land and livestock, are being blamed on wildfires that erupted across the High Plains Monday.

As CNN reports, wildfires across the region consumed more than 1 million acres by Tuesday night and killed people five in Texas, one person in Oklahoma and one person in Kansas.

The fires in the Texas Panhandle claimed at least five lives, including three ranchers who were trying to save their cattle in the Texas Panhandle.

Neil Starkey / amarillo.com

UPDATE: By late Wednesday night, CNN was reporting that the Texas wildfires were responsible for five deaths and 325,000 burned acres. Some of the lives lost in the Panhandle belonged to ranchers trying to save their cattle. Nationwide, fires this week have consumed over a million acres and killed seven.

ORIGINAL POST:

Penn State / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas firefighters are asking residents to stop flying drones near wildfire sites, reports The Houston Chronicle.

Last weekend, the Texas A&M Forest Service was battling a blaze near College Station when it was forced to send out an official request to Texas citizens, pleading with them to not fly drones near the fire.

Management following a wildfire: Effects on vegetation and soils

Mar 1, 2017
Courtesy photo

Dry conditions at this time of year can lead to an increased danger of wildfires. While a fire from a prescribed burn in the spring will not harm perennial grasses on grazing lands, a wildfire may act differently. A wildfire can cause enough damage, especially to bunch grasses, to result in a decline in productivity for a year or two. This is not always the case, however. The best general advice on burned rangeland is to just wait and see how well it recovers.

KVII

A fire near Tulia, Texas, has been contained, but not before it consumed two homes and a massive swath of acreage.

As KVII reports, the wildfire raged all night Tuesday into Wednesday, burning up 2,200 acres of land. As of ten a.m. Wednesday morning, all but 15% of the fire had been contained.

Casey Richmeier

Last year’s Anderson Creek Wildfire was the biggest known wildfire in Kansas’s history, burning 390,000 acres of land in Oklahoma and Kansas and killing hundreds of cattle, destroying millions of dollars worth of buildings and fences, and endangering the lives of hundreds of residents and volunteer firefighters.

And conditions are present that could make wildfires even more prevalent in 2017.

Last year's rains bring increased fire risk in 2017

Feb 27, 2017
Lindsey Bauman / The Hutchinson News

Spring is the optimal time for many people to do prescribed burns across Kansas, especially in the Flint Hills. It invigorates grass/crop growth, reduces noxious weeds, and eliminates excessive dead plant material. These materials, often called fuels, can be variable from season to season. If an area of land is never burned, fuels accumulate and pile up on the ground over the years, often falling over with winter wind and snow.

Casey Richmeier

Windy and dry conditions proved to be a potent combination for firefighters in southwest Kansas and the Texas Panhandle Thursday.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, grass fires were reported in the Kansas counties of Finney, Haskell and Gray County throughout the day.

News 9

Two Oklahoma contracting companies have settled claims over a fire at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma, reports News 9 Oklahoma.

Pratt Tribune

From Kansas Agland:

In spite of the wildfire that burned nearly 400,000 acres of grassland in Barber and Comanche counties, farmers and ranchers continue to look to better times and a renewed commitment to their farm and ranch operations.

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