Role of Fire On the Prairie title of feature presentations; much more offered
WICHITA — On Jan. 20-21, six professional societies that promote the wise use and management of Kansas’ natural resources will sponsor the third Kansas Natural Resources Conference at the Airport Hilton in Wichita. The theme of the plenary session is “Through the Haze — The Role of Fire on the Prairie.” The early registration deadline is Jan. 3.

“This year’s plenary session theme is particularly important,” says Jessica Mounts, steering committee chairperson. “The use of fire as a management tool bears both historical and modern significance, and interested individuals should find that the conference speakers, concurrent sessions, and tradeshow will provide a variety of information about many natural resource topics, including fire.”

“We have also added a job fair for those interested,” Mounts adds.

“Professionals and students will address the conference theme, as well as other natural resource-related topics of importance to Kansas and the region,” says Harold Blume, poster and paper presentation chairperson. More than 50 posters and presentations will be available at the conference.

The Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition joins the conference this year as a sponsor and developed the plenary session. Plenary session speakers include the following:

  • Michael Simkus, chief operating officer for iCORPS Professional Services, Inc., Lisle, Illinois — “Prescribed Fire Liability Issues”;
  • Doug Rigdon, vice president of J. D. Rigdon & Associates, Ltd., Naperville, Illinois — “Prescribed Fire Insurance Considerations”; and
  • Susan O’Neill, Natural Resources Conservation Service air quality scientist, Portland, Oregon— “Smoke Management Modeling.”

Several panelists will give overviews of the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan with discussion to follow. The panel will be moderated by Jason Hartman of the Kansas Prescribed Fire Council. Panelists include the following, with special perspectives on burning:

  • Kay Johnson, city of Wichita — urban perspective on smoke management;
  • Mike Beam, Kansas Livestock Association — rancher perspective;
  • Brian Obermeyer, The Nature Conservancy — non-government organization perspective; and
  • Doug Watson or Tom Gross, Kansas Department of Health and Environment — Flint Hills smoke management process.

“This conference is unique because it is the only conference where all of these professional natural resource specialists in Kansas get together and discuss natural resource issues,” says Harold Klaege, chair of the tradeshow committee. “There is no better place for organizations to display their products or services. Professionals attending the conference can learn about products or services and later share them with Kansas landowners and operators.”

For a conference brochure, registration form, concurrent session topics, tradeshow exhibiting information, committee chairs, and hotel information, go online to, phone Mounts at 316-683-8069, or email

Sponsors of the conference are the Kansas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Society of American Foresters, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, the Great Plains Society of American Foresters, Kansas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, the Kansas Section of the Society of Range Management, Kansas Chapter Soil and Water Conservation Society, and Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition.