Mark Twain National Forest undergoes controlled burns

By Tyler Profilet - bio | email

CARTER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Timothy Perren and Keith Kelley with the National Forest Service say they have awesome jobs.

"It's incredible, I couldn't think of a better job to have," said Kelley.

That's because they get to set fires for a living.

Crews fired up 37 acres of the Mark Twain National Forest Thursday to help bring additional wildlife to the area.

Kelley says burning the forest floor will get rid of debris such as leaves and dead branches that prevent new plant life from growing.

"Some of our long term goals are to get some of the species that are no longer present on this landscape, like the Bachman's sparrow, back to this landscape where they've been gone for the past 100 years because the landscape has changed," he said.

This burn started by lighting a single leaf, then spread through the 40 acres in about two hours, thanks to handheld torches, and even some on the back of ATV's.

"Every fire, no matter how big it is, starts with a single ignition source, as simple as a match or a cigarette lighter," said Perren.

This controlled burn looked similar to a California wildfire, but Kelley says you won't typically see large fires like that in Missouri.

"If you get the right situation, where the humidity is low, and the winds are blowing right, then the canopy can actually catch on fire, and it throws fire though the canopy. While it can happen in Missouri, it doesn't happen very often," he said.

The National Forest Service estimates the cost of burning at about $60 per acre.

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