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Preparations are underway for Ozark National Scenic Riverways to accomplish several prescribed burns this spring.  Prescribed burning provides a variety of benefits to native species and habitats, and helps reduce the threat of devastating wildfires.  The burns will be carefully planned and monitored by the park’s Fire Management staff and will occur between mid-February and mid-April.  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.  A portion of the Ozark Trail could be closed for a couple of days during the Mill/Buzzard Mountain prescribed burn near Rocky Falls and Klepzig Mill. 

Several prescribed burns planned at Ozark Riverways in 2019 will be cooperative efforts with other land management agencies. The Mill/Buzzard Mountain prescribed burn unit is 1,231 acres near Klepzig Mill in the Rocky Creek area. This burn will be conducted in partnership with Missouri Department of Conservation.  The Devils Well prescribed burn unit is 377 acres and is located in the Upper Current River area, in northern Shannon County.  This burn will be conducted jointly with the L.A.D. Foundation and Pioneer Forest.  The Pulltite prescribed burn is 577 acres and is located near the Pulltite Campground in northern Shannon County.  The Booming Shoals prescribed burn is 1,107 acres and is located between Blue Spring on the Current River and Powder Mill.    

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.

The National Park Service works cooperatively with other local land management agencies to conduct prescribed burns each spring. If you would like to receive additional information about other prescribed burns in the local area, please contact Missouri Department of Conservation at (573)226-3616 or the U.S. Forest Service at (573)364-4621.  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. We encourage all to visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/ozar or our Facebook page for further updates.  

Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.

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