Conservation Connection – Controlled burns in the wild

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Remember Smokey Bear’s famous saying, “Only you can prevent wildfires”? Well, did you know that some fires are beneficial for nature?

Josh Ward, community conservation planner with the Missouri Department of Conservation, visits KPLR11 News at Noon to explain the differences between a wildfire and a prescribed fire.

Q. What are the benefits of prescribed fire?
• Stimulates certain plants to grow (wildflowers, forbs, etc.)
• Sets back undesirable or invasive plants (e.g. cedars on glades, woody trees on prairies)
• A great tool to help restore and maintain natural habitats
• Can even be utilized in an urban setting like Forest Park
• A great example of community conservation at work

Q. Why is community conservation so important?
• Promotes public awareness of the value of nature where they live
• Encourages use of native plants and eco-friendly practices like rain gardens
• Helps develop natural communities in urban and suburban areas
• Can provide cost-share funding to help enact conservation projects

Q. What are some advantages of having these natural communities in an urban area?
• Buffers the urban heat effects, lowering temperatures and reducing heat-related illnesses
• Filters pollutants from the air, improving air quality and reducing respiratory problems like asthma
• Absorbs storm water, reducing local flooding and improving water quality
• Increases property values
• Provides wildlife habitat and wildlife watching for residents
• Fosters a sense of community and community pride
• Improves quality of life for people