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Beam to chair Kansas wildfire taskforce in wake of December disaster

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Kansas Ag Director Mike Beam has been selected to lead the state’s wildfire taskforce to help producers prepare and mitigate future disasters. 

He tells Brownfield there’s been an alarming increase in wildfires in the last decade. “We’ve got to at least talk about it and try to do somethings and help address those folks who are most vulnerable when we get into these types of conditions.”

Governor Laura Kelly announced the creation of the Governor’s Wildfire Taskforce on July 20. Appointments include representatives from local, state and federal agencies: USDA, FSA, Kansas Forest Service, Emergency Management, Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Farm Bureau, firefighting agencies and producers.

Beam says the group will assess wildfire threats and those won’t diminish anytime soon. “We’ve had some pretty significant weather events with high, high winds and very dry winds.  We’ve had a lot of fuel load.”

He says the idea came during a conversation with Governor Laura Kelly after surveying damage from the December 15th wildfire. “Is there something that the state ought to be helping with mitigation? Is there a policy recommendation or some suggestions for helping reduce the risks of wildfires? And, how well are we doing responding when they occur?

The group’s second meeting is planned in the next month and Beam says there will be a public comment period in the future.

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