Environmentalists worry about unintentional fires as drought worsens in parts of southwest Missouri

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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VERONA, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri’s latest drought monitor shows part of southwest Missouri with ‘exceptional’ drought conditions.

According to Missouri’s drought monitor, much of Lawrence County is in extreme or exceptional drought.

Jack Miller, 83, owner of Miller Ranch in Verona, said much of his pastures should be knee high, but most of it is patchy, dead, and crunchy.

“We have no control over anything like that,” said Miller. “Even Brandon Beck does not have control over that.”

Miller said he feels helpless.

”The only thing you see green is weeds,” said Miller.

Miller said he has 800 acres and a herd of 200 cattle. He said he hopes the grass will be greener on the other side.

“It’s in my blood, so I just keep on hanging in there,” said Miller.

Miller said he isn’t new to these conditions, as the drought in 1953-1954 caused him to sell his land and go to the Air Force. Miller said while overseas, he saw he was built for a higher purpose.

“Went to a lot third world countries, I got in my head, we got to feed this world, those people can’t produce enough food to feed themselves,” said Miller

Miller said he is proud to be an American farmer who feeds the world.

But Kelly McGowan, a field specialist in Horticulture with the Greene County University of Missouri Extension Office, said this dry spell could mean a few dangerous weeks ahead.

“Hot and dry vegetation, that is just a prescription for having a lot of unintentional fires,” said McGowan.

McGowan said this goes for rural and urban areas. Your lawn could be at risk.

“Things we normally don’t think about can unintentionally start fires,” said McGowan.

McGowan said those things could be as simple as parking in dry grass which can cause sparks, throwing cigarettes out the window, barbeques, and fire pits.

Miller and many farmers across Missouri have a lot on their plate with this dry season.

“It can be depressing, but it can be rewarding also,” said Miller. “Next year will be better. That’s what I told my wife for lathe st 61 years.”

The Missouri Department of Natural resources has drought assistance and ways to get through this rough patch. CLICK HERE for assistance.

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