Kansas Prescribed Fire Council contracts for services from conservationist
"The Kansas Prescribed Fire Council has contracted for services as southwest Kansas regional fire coordinator to help support and encourage local prescribed burn associations and improve lesser prairie chicken habitat," said Barth Crouch, KPFC chairman, Salina.
KPFC and our partners such as the Comanche Pool Prairie Resource Foundation, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Kansas are pleased to be able to bring the experience and skills of Jess Crockford, Hutchinson, to further both entities missions in southwest Kansas, said Crouch. Using grant dollars from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and other partners, KPFC has contracted with Crockford to fulfill a goal of establishing new and further supporting existing prescribed burning associations in the southern portion of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative area of Kansas. KPFC is helping NRCS meet their goals under the national LPCI by putting technical help out where ranchers can get them onto their ranches.
"Since the 2008 formation of the KPFC, there has been a call for more local boots-on-the-ground assistance with prescribed fire issues, especially in western Kansas; I look forward to helping fill that need," said Crockford. "My job is to work one-on-one with ranchers and land managers to help them use prescribed fire to manage their native grasslands. A very successful way to get ranchers into using prescribed fire is to get them organized with other ranchers to form a local prescribed burning association. These associations can share equipment, arrange for needed training, get planning assistance, and provide a team to conduct burns."
Crockford grew up on a ranch in western South Dakota. He graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry/range management in 1973. In 1972, Jess started working for the U.S. Forest Service in the Black Hills National Forest. He moved to Phillipsburg, Kan., in 1974 as a range conservationist with the Soil Conservation Service. In 1976 he moved to Kinsley as district conservationist, then to Council Grove in 1979 as the district conservationist.
In 1987, he moved to Salina, Kan., to serve as the SCS state range conservationist; a position he held for three years. In 1990, Crockford moved to Hutchinson as the area conservationist; later to be renamed as assistant state conservationist for field operations. He retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in June 2012 after 39 years of federal service.
Crockford is based in Hutchinson and can be reached at Jess.Crockford@ks.usda.gov or 620-664-4882.
The Kansas Prescribed Fire Council organized in 2008 to protect private landowner rights and public land manager options to responsibly use prescribed fire as a grassland natural resource management tool. The mission is to promote greater understanding of the safe, legal, and responsible use of prescribed fire as a natural resource management tool. To learn more about KS PFC, go to www.kglc.org and look on the left side navigation tool to find the Fire Council.