So long, Smokey.

Between the shrubs and pine trees laid the charred remains of the forest that once was. Yet this isn’t a tale of disaster.

After decades of hearing from Smokey Bear, some Missouri forest managers are now purposefully burning forests. The practice, referred to as prescribed burning, is a relatively new management tool that can be effective in maintaining healthy forests.

Without Smokey Bear and the fire suppression era, many forest areas would have caught fire naturally. Prescribed fires can imitate what nature intended.

“The forests are burned with the idea of restoring character,” said Rose-Marie Muzika, professor of forestry at the University of Missouri. “The woodland areas were becoming very dense, and this is thought to be more natural.

Prescribed burns require careful planning and preparation and, though still controversial in the industry, are proving to be a useful tool.

Edited by Bridgit Bowden 

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