TOPEKA — When it comes to burning rangeland in the Flint Hills, lawmakers should listen to the prairie chicken, one lobbyist said Thursday.
"In fact, what is good for the greater prairie chicken is in many cases also very good for landowners and their businesses," Kansas Sierra Club lobbyist Chris Cardinal told the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Annual burning is harming the greater prairie chicken’s habitat, Cardinal said, adding that the bird is not endangered but could become so if the burning does not change. He advocated a three-year rotation for burning.
Widespread rangeland burning also could cause problems for Wichita and Kansas City, Kan., when it comes to ozone regulations, the committee heard.
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The state needs to come up with a smoke management plan this year that could encompass everyone's needs, possibly including an air quality exception for when the rangelands burn, said Kay Johnson, the city's environmental initiatives manager.