Help You Manage Your Property
- Produce more forage for cattle in native warm-season grass plantings and prairies.
- Increase vigor and diversity of plant and animal life in prairies.
- Control woody plants and exotic grasses in grasslands and idled fields. Fire can be effective in reducing cedar and other tree species from native idled land. It also retards exotic grasses and encourages the annual weeds that provide food for wildlife.
- Restore vigor and plant diversity to glades, woodlands and savannas. Fire can rejuvenate cedar-invaded glades and savannahs that have lost their grassy understory. Extreme caution is required to see that the glade or savanna burn doesn’t become a wildfire in the woods.
- Fire may help in woodland and forest management. It may be useful to not only control competing woody plants, but to also stimulate the regeneration of oaks.
- Periodic prescribed fire, done carefully, may increase the biological diversity within a woodland.
- Help restore historical pine woodlands. Fire is useful in promoting pine regeneration and maintaining a native grass and forb community associated with pine. We are currently studying how fire also helps control woody species that compete with pine.
Partnering With More Than 800 Fire Departments to Protect Missouri From Wildfire
Missouri’s rural fire departments have worked cooperatively with the Conservation Department to protect life, property and natural resources from wildfire for many decades. In the early days of this partnership, fire departments came to back up the Conservation Department’s wildfire suppression resources on fires that were difficult to control.
Over the past 30 years, the Department has helped organize, equip and train fire departments to assist with wildfire suppression. Over time, the roles of the partners have changed. Today, fire departments do a majority of the initial attack of wildfires. In most of the state, the Department serves as the backup when difficult fires occur. This backup is often in the form of sending a bulldozer to build fuel breaks in order to catch a fast-moving fire.
Through Mutual Aid Agreements, the Department provides Volunteer Fire Assistance matching grants and federal excess property to help fire departments equip themselves. The Department also provides varying levels of training in wildfire suppression. The level of the training provided depends on the training need determined by the fire department.
Smokey Bear, the fire-fighting symbol of fire prevention since the 1940s, is still around. Smokey has been one of the most successful advertising campaigns in the nation’s history. His messages on fire prevention to schoolchildren have resulted in a generation of people who are aware of the dangers and damages of wildfires.
Now that we know some fires can do good things for the environment, Smokey is changing his message to “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.” His message of responsibility with fire in the woods is just as valid today as it was in 1944. Here in Missouri, with all of the houses being built in our beautiful forestlands, it is crucial that we let no fires, wild or prescribed, cause damage. This can be accomplished by preventing wildfires but also by having our homes prepared for wildfires when they occur. Preparing homes to be wildfire safe is one of the key goals of the Firewise program. Visit the Firewise website at www.firewise.org for more information on making your home safe from wildfire.
Smokey’s Prescribed Fire Checklist—Don’t Burn If:
- You don’t have a written burn plan.
- You can’t stay with the fire until it is safe.
- You don’t have the needed equipment or people.
- Your firelines aren’t in place and functional.
- You don’t have the right weather or it is expected to change during the burn.
- You haven’t contacted neighbors, the Conservation Department or your county 911 fire dispatch center.
Rural Forest Fire Equipment Center
Missouri’s participation in the Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) program has been extensive. The Department’s Forestry Division began acquiring federal excess equipment in the early 1960s. The availability of excess property helped Forestry Division staff across the state work with hundreds of communities to establish a network of mostly volunteer-based fire departments. Today, with the help of the FEPP, many of those same small fire departments have grown to a size and to a quality that is unbelievable.
The Rural Forest Fire Equipment Center (RFFEC) opened in Lebanon in 1991. The RFFEC, under the leadership of the excess property coordinator, operates with a dedicated staff to manage the FEPP. Numerous local Forestry Division staff work one on one with fire departments to help administer the FEPP as well. Throughout the life of FEPP, the benefits to Missouri’s rural fire service, to forest resource protection, to communities in need of fire protection and to the Missouri Department of Conservation have been enormous.
—by Ruby Anderson