Preparations are underway for Ozark National Scenic Riverways to accomplish several prescribed burns this spring, between early February and mid-April, said park officials.

The burns will be carefully planned and monitored by the park’s fire management staff. The scheduling of these prescribed burns is dependent on weather and vegetation meeting certain conditions. During prescribed burns, park operations will continue as usual, although temporary closure of trails or roads adjacent to the burn unit may be necessary for visitor safety.

Several prescribed burns planned at Ozark Riverways this will be cooperative efforts with other land management agencies.

The Alley Spring prescribed burn unit is 826 acres near Alley Mill. This burn will be conducted in partnership with Missouri Department of Conservation. The Pulltite prescribed burn unit is 577 acres and is in the Upper Current River area in northern Shannon County. This burn will be conducted in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy.

The following burn units are in the Big Spring area on the Lower Current River: Partney (105 acres) and Longbay (1,200 acres) along Z Highway south of Big Spring; Big Spring Ridge (636 acres) and Sweezie Hollow (166 acres) along Peavine Road, and Campbell Point/Beaverpond (605 acres) along Brown’s Road.

The Big Tree/Kelly prescribed burn unit is 422 acres and is a cooperative burn with The Nature Conservancy, near the end of Z Highway south of Big Spring.  

In order to ensure the safety of firefighters and the public, foot and vehicle travel in or near the prescribed fire operations may be temporarily restricted. Firefighters plan to conduct prescribed burns during weather conditions that will allow for smoke to disperse without causing negative impacts. However, smoke may impair visibility in the vicinity of the prescribed burn and could linger low in the atmosphere over a broad geographic area. Individuals with respiratory ailments are encouraged to take extra precautions to avoid exposure to smoke.

Anyone who is concerned about the potential impacts of smoke from a prescribed burn can request to be added to the park’s notification list in order to be contacted in advance.  

Prescribed burning has a variety of purposes, including the reduction of fuel accumulations near developed areas, which helps reduce the threat of unplanned wildland fires in and around Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Prescribed fire benefits native plants and animals in a variety of ways.

Deer, turkeys, collared lizards and other species benefit from the use of fire to maintain or improve the habitat they depend on. Native habitats such as glades, savannas, and woodlands can suffer from woody overgrowth in the absence of fire.

For more information about prescribed burns at Ozark Riverways or to be included on the park’s notification list, contact Dena Matteson at 573-323-4814 or dena_matteson@nps.gov.

To receive additional information about other prescribed burns in the local area, contact Missouri Department of Conservation at 573-226-3616 or the U.S. Forest Service at 573-364-4621.

Visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/ozar or @Ozarkriverways on Facebook for further updates.

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