Prescribed fires: Amendment would hurt national forest

28 October 2013

published by

USA — Missouri’s U.S. Congressman Jason Smith (R-8th District) recently proposed an amendment to HR 1526 that seeks to limit ecological and healthy prescribed fire on the Mark Twain National Forest.

The Missouri Prescribed Fire Council, a group of private and public prescribed fire users, oppose this and any other effort to restrict the responsible use of fire in Missouri.

Prescribed burning is a safe way to apply a natural process, ensure ecosystem health and reduce wildfire risk.

Mark Twain National Forest has been successfully using prescribed fire on their own lands to achieve those objectives in a safe, effective way.

In many cases, fire is not only the most economical way to restore historic ecological conditions but the only way in fire-adapted systems. When prescribed fire touches public land, it is after a thorough scientific planning process, under specific parameters outlined in the plan, and is implemented by a trained practitioners.

The use of fire as a land management tool is well grounded in scientific research. Many game species, such as quail and turkey, and non-game species like neotropical birds, flourish under the habitat conditions that fire can create.

Shortleaf pine and many oak species also germinate better in the bare mineral soil and canopy openings created through prescribed fire; frequent low severity fire also helps oaks and hickories out-compete less desirable species like beech and maple.

Wildfires will happen whether we want them to or not. Using prescribed fire to restore forests and reduce the risk of high severity fire is good for business, good for our air and water quality and just good sense.

Opposition to the continued use of prescribed fire is in disregard for the health and safety of the people and lands of Missouri.

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