Fire Could Help Your Land
No doubt about it — a wildfire can destroy property and threaten life, especially if it strikes in an overgrown or unmanaged forest. However, the careful use of prescribed fire can actually improve your land's health as well as protect life and property.
A wildlife biologist may suggest a prescribed fire to clear overgrown areas and increase plant diversity. Prescribed fires are also a cheaper alternative to herbicides when removing invasive species such as fescue. A prescribed fire could be the right option for your land, but don’t forget to “plan before you light it, so you won't have to fight it.”
Missouri's Prescribed Burning Act (RSMo Section 537.354) defines liability for prescribed burning.
Use the NRCS guidelines below to become familiar with the basics of conducting a safe, successful prescribed burn.
- Call your local private land conservationist for a list of prescribed-burn workshops near you.
- Don't attempt a prescribed burn without training and help. Call your local private land conservationist to learn more.
- Always notify your neighbors and local fire department before conducting a prescribed burn.
Prepare a burn plan and stick to it. Call off the prescribed burn if the weather isn’t right or it’s expected to change during the burn.
The Missouri Prescribed Fire Council promotes and protects the responsible use of prescribed fire as a natural resource management tool in Missouri. On their site, you can log your burn to help chart use of prescribed fire across the state, shape future legislation, and improve insurance options for burners. On the same page, you can review historical burn information for the state that includes how many burns were logged each month, how many acres were burned, which counties the burns were conducted in, and which types of habitats are being managed with fire. If you are looking for someone to conduct a prescribed burn for you, the contractor page lists fire contractors who are available for hire.
The council site also includes a weather page with resources landowners and managers can use to see if local weather conditions are conducive to conducting prescribed burns. The page includes a downloadable Prescribed Fire Weather Info User's Guide with instructions on where and how to find weather information such as wind direction, wind speed, relative humidity, fuel moistures, sky cover, and temperatures.
Landowners and contractors, you can become certified prescribed burn managers. To get your certified burner certification, take the self-paced Missouri-approved online prescribed burn course. For a preview of what is covered by the course, view the study guide outline available on the course page.
Check with your local private land conservationist to see if a student coupon or agency code is available to cover the cost of the online course.
The next step to becoming certified is an in-person field exercise. Check MDC landowner events for scheduled field exercises. If there is no exercise near you, complete this survey to indicate where you would prefer to attend one.