Mark Twain National Forest staff plans prescribed burns

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ROLLA, Mo. - Mark Twain National Forest’s prescribed fire season will continue as weather allows. Over the next few weeks and months, firefighters will look for opportunities to conduct several prescribed burns.

Prescribed fires primarily help reduce the threat of wildfires and improve the health of native plants and wildlife habitat. Deer, turkey, quail and other species benefit when the plants they depend on for food or cover are rejuvenated by the use of fire.

A prescribed fire is one that is ignited by highly-trained fire personnel under specific fuel and weather conditions.

“We work with the weather, not against it; and make sure that we conduct prescribed burns at the right time to be both effective and safe,” said Jim Cornelius, Fire Management officer for the Mark Twain National Forest.

Each prescribed burn will be when favorable atmospheric ventilation (such as high-elevation breezes) are occurring to pull the smoke away and minimize smoke impacts to local communities. Although some smoke may be visible and affect nearby communities, the Forest Service strives to keep smoke impacts within federal and state air quality standards.

Signs will be posted on roads near all prescribed burn areas prior to and when burning is in progress. When encountering the signs, drivers should slow down in case shifting winds increase the smoke along roadways near the burn areas.

“Whether it’s prescribed fire or wildfire, if the public encounters smoke on the highways, slow down, turn on your lights and drive appropriately under the conditions,” said Cornelius.

Prescribed fire operations will be posted to the Forest Service Facebook page at www.facebook.com/marktwainnationalforest on the day of each burn.

Lost Glade -- On the Houston portion of the Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek Ranger District, this prescribed fire is planned in a section of forest four miles north of Falcon in Laclede County. This burn will be 344 acres.

Burn objectives are to reduce the fuel loading in the hardwoods and glades, while stimulating the grass/forbs plant community and maintaining the open areas by top killing the invading woody species. This will promote wildlife diversity and habitat.

The burn will likely have one day of firing operations.

Blue Hole – This prescribed fire will be on the Willow Springs portion of the Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District. Specifically it will be eight miles west of Pomona (in portions of Howell and Douglas Counties).

This project’s total area will be 4,487 acres but it will be broken up into smaller burn units. Burning these smaller units will be accomplished in as few non-consecutive days as possible based on weather and the need to minimize smoke impacts to local roads and communities.

The Blue Hole prescribed fire will reduce the fuel load in the area while stimulating and diversifying grass and other plant communities. In the forested areas, the objective is to mimic the historical fire occurrence and improve forest health by clearing a bed for pine regeneration.

White Cloud – This prescribed fire is on the Cedar Creek portion of the Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek Ranger District, approximately seven miles northwest of Fulton in Callaway County. The unit is located in the northern part of Callaway County centrally located between Miller Creek and Middle River.

The White Cloud Prescribed Fire is planned to be 216 acres. The primary objectives for this prescribed fire are to reduce the fuel loading in the hardwoods, and reduce small woody saplings; while also stimulating the grass/forbs plant community, and maintaining or improving the openness of the area. It likely will be a one-day firing operation.

Mark Twain National Forest is the largest public land manager in Missouri with 1.5 million acres in 29 counties in southern and central Missouri. Mark Twain National Forest is managed to protect and restore Missouri’s natural communities and maintain a healthy, working forest. For more information about Mark Twain National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf.