I propose that on days of poor air quality in the Kansas City metro area that the driving of cars be banned. The EPA wants to regulate when we can burn because of air quality issues in Kansas City. Let me state that it is my belief that while we may push those air quality numbers to a higher level, pasture burning is not the cause for alarm. The air quality is pushed to the brink because of all the cars being driven in the Kansas City area.
You can't do that, it would hurt your business. Well, I suppose it would and those are the same reasons that limiting burning do not work for those of us in the Flint Hills. Research has proven that fire is necessary to maintain the integrity of the tallgrass prairie. Kansas State University research has also proven that cattle eat a more nutritious diet on pastures that have been burned in the spring. Therefore, they gain more weight, they are worth more money when the rancher sells them and the rancher makes more money (or loses less).
The EPA would have us burn at different times of the year. Again, research has proven that earlier burning results in more water running off of the native range increasing soil erosion and allowing less water to infiltrate the ground and causing a lack of soil moisture. They have all of this information and yet they chose to ignore it.
What am I asking for. Well, I suppose I am asking for something novel, something very uncommon in government regulatory agencies with political appointees, common sense. All I am asking for is for the EPA to realize that the burning of the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie is necessary and only results in a very short, very temporary blip in air quality and to ignore it. In a matter of hours or days it will go away. In the meantime, we will maintain the last tallgrass prairie in the world. Remember, as ranchers we have spent our whole lives taking care of the prairie and we know what is best. Please contact your congressional representative and the EPA and ask them to use some uncommon, common sense.