Kansas ranchers eager to prepare their land for cattle grazing have mostly brushed off the plea from state health officials to voluntarily cut back this spring’s prairie burning to reduce air pollution during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on March 26 encouraged land owners and managers to reduce burned acres this spring in an effort to mitigate respiratory concerns connected to breathing the smoke.

Air quality monitors this past week have picked up “significantly high readings” downwind from Kansas in the Lincoln and Omaha areas of Nebraska, with smoke from Kansas reaching as far north as South Dakota.

Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary, says that he does not “have the inclination” to recommend an outright ban on all rangeland burning at this point, because pollution levels aren’t consistently above the thresholds set by the federal government.