When used in controlled, supervised conditions, fire can be a beneficial land management tool. To get the best results with fire, however, requires advanced planning and on-site management.
Using fire as a management tool can improve wildlife habitat and may also improve livestock forage. People wanting to learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire will have opportunities to learn about this land management tool at Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) virtual workshops on Feb. 15, Feb. 18, and Feb. 25. All three workshops will be from 6-8:30 p.m. At all three online events, MDC staff will be available to answer questions. Using this virtual format, the team will discuss wildlife and grazing benefits that prescribed fire can help bring about.
People can register for the Feb. 15 workshop at:
People can register for the Feb. 18 workshop at:
People can register for the Feb. 25 workshop at:
These programs are geared towards introducing landowners to prescribed burn methods, available cost-share programs, and connecting landowners to their local MDC staff. These workshops are aimed at landowners in Carter, Dent, Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Phelps, Pulaski, Ripley, Shannon, Texas, and Wright counties. Prior to the workshop, landowners who’ve registered will receive an information packet in the mail which will include burn objectives, a sample burn plan, MDC’s “Prescribed Burning in Missouri” booklet and other resources.
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, fire can be extremely beneficial to a tract of grassland – particularly where native grasses and forbs are trying to be established. Burning does little harm to native grasses because more than half of the plant’s biomass is underground. Compare this to a tree, which only has about 25 percent of its biomass below ground. This means fire is an excellent tool for ridding an area of woody vegetation such as trees and shrubs.
Burning also removes dead plant growth, which allows rainfall and nutrients contained in ash to enter the ground quicker. This clearing process allows sunlight to better warm the soil for sprouting seeds.
The end results can have multiple benefits for landowners. It can lead to better grazing opportunities for cattle by providing more native warm-season grasses during summer months – which is when exotic cool-season grasses have less nutritional value. It can also increase an area’s plant diversity. This will bring about more wildlife diversity and lead to better nature-viewing opportunities.
“A properly conducted prescribed burn can enhance the landscape and the wildlife habitat,” said MDC Private Land Conservationist Mark McLain. “Attending one of these MDC prescribed burn virtual workshops will give you the basic knowledge needed to conduct your prescribed burn in a safe and effective manner and to achieve your management goals.”
Though these February burn workshops are free, registration is required to participate using the links above. Registrants must provide an e-mail, so a program link can be sent to them. For additional information about these workshops, people can contact MDC Regional Resource Management District Supervisor John Ackerson at 417-256-7161 or at John.Ackerson@mdc.mo.gov(link sends e-mail).
Staff at MDC facilities across the state are holding virtual and some in-person programs. A listing of these events can be found at mdc.mo.gov/regions.