By Bonnie Chasteen
Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.
“Depending on their objectives, our conservation area managers often use prescribed fire to improve habitat, control forest pests, or enrich natural communities,” said MDC Fire Program Supervisor Ben Webster. “Private landowners can do this, too.”
In partnership with the Missouri Prescribed Fire Council (MPFC), Webster teaches the best practices of planning and conducting a prescribed fire. The council comprises private landowners and private contractors as well as several agencies and nonprofits. These include MDC, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. “Our practices are based on years of conducting prescribed fires in different conditions and for different outcomes,” Webster said. “Our planning tools also include weather forecasts and fire behavior and smoke modeling programs, which can increase a manager’s confidence in a plan,” Webster said.
“If you can predict how a fire is likely to behave and how much heat and smoke it will produce, it can help you decide how to adjust your plan or even cancel it for that day. A big part of a successful habitat burn is whether the neighbors are comfortable with it,” he added.
“A lot of people think all fire is bad,” Webster said. “But if done right, prescribed fire can be one of the best tools for improving habitat for wildlife and even for timber management goals.”
For a schedule of upcoming private landowner burn workshops, contact your local MDC private land conservationist. In addition, there are five burn associations around the state that may offer potential assistance to interested landowners. To get in touch with the burn association nearest you, visit moprescribedfire.org.
Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler