Historically fire played an important role determining which plant species could survive in a given location and therefore shaping the natural communities of Missouri including prairies, savannas, woodlands, glades, forests, and even wetlands. Fire occurred naturally from lightning strikes and was used by Native Americans as a tool to distribute grazing bison. Since then, fire has since been suppressed for the protection of property, but this has led to a buildup of vegetative fuels. With the absence of fire, natural communities have degraded as fire-intolerant plants displace fire-adapted plants and the resulting wildlife.
Prescribed fire or controlled burning is an affordable and effective management tool to accomplish land management goals including reducing fuel loads to reduce the intensity and chance of wildfire, restoring native plant communities, enhancing wildlife habitat, improving livestock forage production, regenerating merchantable trees, and controlling invasive species. The responsible use of fire can benefit the people and resources of Missouri.