Controlled burns needed for Wichita parks, official says

02/20/2014 12:01 PM

02/20/2014 12:02 PM

Smoke and flames are a remedy, Wichita parks officials say.

Five parks with a lot of natural prairie grassland, filling up in spots with red cedar and invasive bush honeysuckle, are about to endure an ancient remedy – fire.

The city reminded residents Thursday that it plans controlled burns on weather-appropriate days from late February through March, said Doug Kupper, director of parks and recreation. The burns will involve a lot of smoke, and a lot of people ensuring that smoke doesn’t engulf neighborhoods, or in the case of Pawnee Prairie, the nearby runways of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, Kupper said.

The parks involved: Chisholm Creek, Dr. Glen Dey, Meadows, Pawnee Prairie, and Swanson.

Neighborhoods will be notified in advance, Kupper said.

Without a fire clearance, plants like the cedar and bush honeysuckle will take over sections of the park, Kupper said.That would forced out natural vegetation and cut down on food available to the raccoons, deer and other wildlife the city likes to have in nature parks, Kupper said.

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