Prescribed fire season has returned to the central United States. Mid-March through the end of April is the time of the year when large areas of rangeland are burned. These burns are conducted to provide better forage for cattle and to help control invasive species. Well planned and managed prescribed burns have been proven to minimize fire safety danger and they are an inexpensive tool for managing rangeland.
Drought had previously limited the number of burns but with the return of moisture through last fall and this spring, there will be the opportunity for extensive burning this year. It should be noted that for burns to be conducted safely and effectively, weather and rangeland conditions must be right. In years when these conditions are right, many landowners conduct burns concurrently. However, if these burns take place when meteorological conditions do not disperse the smoke, air pollutants from the burns can be carried long distances to more populated areas.
In addition to prescribed burns, three large wildfires are burning in Oklahoma around Dustin and Hominy affecting a total of close to 4,700 acres. All three are almost completely contained, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on March 29, 2014. The heaviest clusters of red hot-spots, which indicate fire, are located in Kansas.