Grass fire a controlled burn
A large grass fire on U.S. Highway 77 North that was spotted by several residents Friday afternoon was a controlled burn.
Rancher Trey Ruschhaupt said he burned about 1,000 acres to remove dead brush that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service killed in an effort to restore the original prairie, and provide habitat for songbirds and other indigenous wildlife.
"As weather permits, and I can keep smoke off the highway, there will be more burns. I know people are concerned, but I start preparing fireguards in the summer, and watch for the correct weather conditions for a safe burn," Ruschhaupt said. He added he has two other pastures in the area that will also be burned.
The burn was just off Tate Road.
He contacted the fire department earlier in the day to inform them of the burn, County Fire Marshal Ron Pray said.
"It's just part of normal pasture management," Pray said. "The ranchers prescribe burning to control the brush and renew all the rangeland grasses right now that are all dead due to freezing."
Ruschhaupt said the fish and wildlife department provides the chemicals to kill the brush and the landowner agrees to burn the brush twice in 10 years.
If weather conditions are right another controlled burn could occur next week, Ruschhaupt said.