The U.S. Department of Agriculture has authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program land in Kansas and two other states affected by wildfires.
Cattle will be allowed to graze on the sensitive lands during the nesting season of the lesser prairie chicken, which is normally restricted from April 15 to July 15 in Kansas.
According to a news release from the USDA, the emergency grazing was authorized in response to a directive from President Trump.
Counties affected include Clark, Comanche, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Hodgeman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Meade, Ness, Russell and Seward.
Ranchers, Gov. Sam Brownback and others had asked for grazing restrictions to be eased for cattle that survived the wildfires but lost their pastures. An estimated 630,000 acres burned, primarily pasture, and large amounts of hay and feed were destroyed.
“Ranchers are facing devastating conditions and economic calamity because of these wildfires and they need some relief, or else they face the total loss of their herds in many cases,” said Michael Young, acting deputy secretary for the USDA, in a release.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, issued a statement applauding the action, as did Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., who is on the House Committee on Agriculture.