Annual Burning Rant

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This is the time of the year that the state is ablaze.  Kansas is fairly unique in the fact that for some reason, I very much fail to understand in this day and age of pollution control and health, we decide to set the whole state on fire for a couple months.  We burn the fields for weed control and so the cattle gain weight through more nutritious greenery.

I do this every year.  If you have never experienced, you wouldn’t believe it.  It is sometime like England must have been back in the 1600’s when they were burning peat and coal for heat and cooking.  Most nights and morning I walk outside and it smells like there is a fire in the neighborhood.  We took Tucker and Hawkeye out west of town to walk and we could see numerous plumes of smoke surrounding the whole city of Topeka.

I wither in these conditions.  I’m normally in a slump and my throat is raspy nearly all the time. Even the advertising on the radio warns of the hazards of the “wildfires”.

These aren’t wildfires.  These are set by man to make money.  I wonder if someone could actually tally up the health costs compared to the money for the cattle, if it would be a wash.

Most of the burning around Topeka isn’t for cattle.  It is ditches, fields with no fencing, nearly anywhere that will burn.  These people are pyromaniacs and don’t understand the burning is for a reason and not for fun.

They aren’t supposed to burn if the wind is over 15 miles per hour, but these people totally ignore that law.  I just went and saw the Segwick County burning permit.  It is free.  Maybe if it cost something, less people would do it for fun.  On the permit is says – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR FIRE, AND ITS SMOKE. If that is the case, then someone owes me a plane ticket to leave here for awhile, because their smoke is going into my lungs.

Yesterday it was pretty windy.  Over 30 mph.  But they still burned.  The fires west got out of control and they were talking about evacuating a town of 1000 people.  The governor declared a state of emergency and 15 fire districts responded.  WTF?  We’re starting fires and burning down our own towns so cattle get heavier?  Photos from the Topeka paper.

Man, if my house burnt down because of a grass fire that was set on purpose, then I would be pissed.  I wonder if they called and told them that they were going to burn.  I could hardly ride my bike, why would someone light a fire.

Anyway, this is going on for another month.  Eventually someone is going to address the situation.  But our political bodies are so fucked up, it won’t be for a long while.  In the meantime, the beat goes on.

We couldn't decide how to avoid the smoke.

We couldn’t decide how to avoid the smoke.

This is a small one.

This is a small one.

fire copy

Front page of the paper this morning.

Front page of the paper this morning.

Tucker and Hawkeye are super buddies now.

Tucker and Hawkeye are super buddies now.

But, Tucker needs his alone time now that he is a teenager.

But, Tucker needs his alone time now that he is a teenager.

My arms are a mess from playing with Tucker. Sharp teeth and claws.

My arms are a mess from playing with Tucker. Sharp teeth and claws.


13 thoughts on “Annual Burning Rant

  1. TreyH

    I’m with you on this Steve. I live in the boondocks in the Flint Hills, have asthma, like to ride my bike, and learned to hate March/April because of the burning. Monday I couldn’t do my workout because visibility was down to 1/2 mile and my eyes burned. The ranchers lit up even though the wind was from the east and blowing towards Wichita. If Wichita exceeds EPA ozone level limits, the city is fined. Thus taxpayers are on the hook for pollution caused by the ranchers 30-100 miles away. Hard to be sympathetic to the plight of the cattle ranchers They’re the first to complain when they don’t get their way, but repeatedly fail to give a single rat’s ass about anything except their bottom line.

  2. Max

    Steve I understand that you have lived in Kansas the majority of your life but honestly why do you stay there? It just seems that it’s not the greatest environment for “your” health nor for cycling really. You should have a look at NW Arkansas. Only 3.5hrs from KC. Affordable living, super low crime rate, NO BURNING and is QUICKLY becoming a mountain biking Mecca! You can always go back to visit.

  3. Jim

    I guess that I have to admit that I am amazed.
    In the part of Ohio where I live we have mandatory EPA checks in order to license our cars. Not the whole state mind you but about 7 out of the 88 counties have this requirement. I imagine the pollution must somehow stop at the county line.
    Anyway, this is done in the name of cleaner air and yet the people in Kansas are allowed to burn with open fires???
    Is there something that I don’t understand?

  4. Sean YD

    It really is incredible, isn’t it Jim? So backwards!

    The burning is so bad that the smoke is blowing north as far as Kearney, Nebraska, where they issued environmental warnings about it earlier this week.

  5. James

    Ranchers & any business connected to the ag bottom line vote. Welcome to democracy peeps. Go petition your local reps & go from there.

    If you witness illegal burning, call the local firemarshall & sherriff. Load the counties your going through. Better yet, see if the county has a twitter acct & post it.

    And btw, burning spring grass was part of nature. Had same effect for the buffalo.

  6. Cat2Racer

    MOVE ALREADY… GOODNESS. They are not going to stop the burning so crying about it constantly isnt going to help.

  7. dave

    Steve those ranchers are just trying to reduce your riding to maybe…..half your mileage ? Wave the white flag and they’ll stop. Or….you can fight back with an oxygen/gas mask !

  8. dave

    Steve, just checked. Kansas and that region is BURNIN’ UP !! Grab Tucker, your bike and GIT THE HELL OUT’A THERE !

  9. TreyH

    Nope. Prairie ecologists are fairly certain that any randomly selected spot of tgp historically burned every 5-10 years, not annually. In addition, burns occurred throughout the year, not during an eight week window. Not the same.

  10. James

    And ranchers don’t typically burn same spot annually either. And while yes, natural fire could occurr anytime. However, main source was spring lightning strikes. In addition, “random” would be as random as the native american’s chose to enhance their hunt. A prior to the horse, when their movements were restricted to dogs, they certainly burned same areas near their settlements to attract food to be closer to their camps. Praire ecologist- you sound like one – pfft.


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