QUIVIRA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE — The smoke rose gently over the horizon Tuesday as 13 firefighters managed a control burn over 1,800 acres Tuesday in the northeast section of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Rice and Stafford counties. Winds ranged from 4 to 6 mph.
“It was good burn conditions Tuesday,” said Bill Waln, Quivira NWR fire management officer.
However, harsher conditions with a peak gust of 33 mph Wednesday convinced Waln to request five additional firefighting crews. Fire engine crews from Colorado and Nebraska from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management joined their Kansas neighbors from the Kansas Forest Service.
“So far, so good,” Waln said. “We’ve got everything contained within the perimeter of the fire zone.”
Waln said the 25 firefighters planned to monitor the prescribed zone the rest of the day. Waln said Quivira NWR has burned on four days this spring.
Controlled burns, or prescribed fires, are ignited by trained wildland fire firefighters to meet specific management objectives.
Waln said about 5,600 acres are treated annually at Quivira NWR. The majority of prescribed fires at Quivira NWR are implemented during March and April. However, burning occurs throughout the year depending on weather conditions and project requirements.
The general management goals being met through use of fire as a land management practice include:
* Goal One: Preserve, restore and enhance federally and state listed threatened and endangered species and the habitats upon which they depend.
* Goal Two: Provide for the life requirements of waterfowl and other migratory birds occurring within Quivira NWR by maintaining a healthy and diverse variety of habitats.
* Goal Three: To preserve, restore and enhance a natural diversity of flora and fauna, representative of a healthy ecosystem, which will provide for the life requirements of resident wildlife.
* Goal Four: Heighten an awareness and understanding of man’s role in the natural world and promote a sense of stewardship for the land and wildlife resources.
* Goal Five: Reduce/limit number of unwanted fires, specifically those fires 300 acres or larger, and fuel loading on the Refuge.
Wildfires on the Refuge and areas adjacent to the Refuge are common in March, April, July and August.
Fires ignited by lightning account for 36 percent of the fires started on or adjacent to the Refuge and 64 percent of wildfires are human caused. The Refuge has agreements with Stafford County and Rice County to assist the volunteer fire departments.
Across the district there are six engines as well as other equipment available for wildfire suppression. There are five light engines and one heavy engine.
Two light engines and the one heavy engine are stationed at Quivira NWR. There are five permanent fire staff and five seasonal fire crew members throughout the district.