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Discover Nature: Prescribed Fire

White smoke fills a woodland landscape in early spring as short orange flames slowly creep across the forest floor; two firefighters walk along the fire-line in the distance with rake and drip-torch.
Managing land with prescribed fire can help maintain the health and diversity of Missouri’s natural communities. ";

For thousands of years, fire has shaped natural communities in Missouri. This week on Discover Nature, watch for smoke and fire on the landscape.



The first European explorers to document the Missouri wilderness noted American Indians’ use of fire to preserve grasslands for bison and promote regrowth of fruits, berries, and many other natural foods that flourish from periodic fires. 


Today, this ancient tool remains relevant as ever in managing pastures and woodlands for wildlife and food production, and combating invasive species. 


By removing leaf litter and dead plant material, fire returns mineral nutrients to the soil as ash, and releases carbons bound in plants back to the atmosphere. 


Although fire can breathe new life into the landscape, it can also kill. 


Prescribed burning can quickly turn into dangerous wildfires without proper planning, training, and resources. Learn how to use fire responsibly and prevent unintended harm and destruction by contacting your local conservation office. 


Find more information about prescribed fire as a land management tool, and find workshops and other information to help you use fire safely with the Missouri Department of Conservation.


Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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