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

The burns will be carefully planned and monitored by the park’s fire management staff, say officials, adding that the scheduling of the 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 in 2021 will be cooperative efforts with other land management agencies.

The Alley Spring prescribed burn unit is 826 acres near Alley Mill, and will be conducted in partnership with Missouri Department of Conservation. The Pulltite prescribed burn unit is 577 acres in the upper Current River area in northern Shannon County, and will be done in partnership with Missouri Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. The Welch Lodge burn unit is 829 acres, also in the upper Current River area in northern Shannon County, near Akers. That burn will be conducted in partnership with Pioneer Forest.

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.

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

All are encouraged to visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/ozar or its Facebook page @Ozarkriverways for further updates.

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