in modern forest management. ‚ÄúThe keys to healthy forests remain sound forest management, education and protection from land conversion practices,‚ÄĚ Tuttle says.
‚ÄúTremendous progress in Missouri‚Äôs forest management has been made in the last 75 years, with MDC leading the way,‚ÄĚ Tuttle says. ‚ÄúThe once impossible task of fire control in the Ozarks is a reality. Deer and turkey are found in record numbers. Restoration programs have supported many native species of fish and wildlife. And once again, Missouri is a leader in wood products.‚ÄĚ
Fire management today is the best it has ever been. MDC‚Äôs Rural Fire Protection program remains one of the Department‚Äôs most effective statewide programs. It began in the mid-1960s to organize, equip and train rural fire departments. MDC foresters also provided on-site training for fire suppression. This program has protected nature, lives and property.
To date, MDC has provided 776 fire departments with firefighting equipment valued at more than $58 million and firefighting grants totaling more than $3.8 million. MDC‚Äôs fire prevention efforts also include helping communities and homeowners to adopt federal Firewise principles to greatly reduce the chances of fire damage.
Well-planned prescribed fires continue to be a useful management tool to mimic natural processes and effectively manage large areas. Prescribed fire on a landscape scale increases habitat diversity for all woods and prairie.
Prescribed fires encourage native species, increase wildlife food supplies and reduce wildfire potential.
MDC Works With You to Sustain Healthy Forests
Partnerships are vital to ensure healthy forests. MDC, the U.S. Forest Service and landowners work together to improve Missouri‚Äôs forests for wildlife, recreation, timber and watershed protection. MDC‚Äôs state land program manages more than 400,000 acres of public forestland. But those acres are but a fraction of Missouri‚Äôs total forests.
‚ÄúLandowners own 83 percent of the state‚Äôs forest, and what happens on private forest lands has a major effect on the state‚Äôs forest health,‚ÄĚ Tuttle says. ‚ÄúPrivate landowners are the key to forest conservation.‚ÄĚ
To that end, the Missouri Forest Action Plan was developed‚ÄĒa strategy for sustaining Missouri‚Äôs forests and the benefits and services we expect from them.
‚ÄúThe plan serves as a call to action. While Missouri‚Äôs forests are increasingly threatened, they offer tremendous potential to help with many of our most pressing social and environmental challenges,‚ÄĚ says Lisa Allen, MDC forestry division chief.
MDC works with landowners on long-term stewardship of their property, which can span multiple generations. Most landowners realize that forest management is an investment in