Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23, 1983

It was thirty years ago today under bluebird skies and perfect prescribed fire conditions that Paul Nelson lit the first match on public lands ushering in what would become an institutionalized program of prescribed fire in woodlands. Ten years ago today, I arrived at the same site for an interview to work there, and spent the afternoon working a wildfire started by local citizens who deemed it a perfect burn day. Local fire departments and the state conservation agency were adamantly opposed to this prescribed fire event in 1983, "you'll make the natives restless," they surmised, but instead the only press that came out of it was positive--woods in Missouri are meant to burn, to put it simply, and reintroducing fire as a management tool is responsible, not derelict. Today, prescribed fire in woodlands is a widely accepted practice throughout the Midwest. It all started in the Niangua Basin 30 years ago today. Photos from the 1983 fire below, and a photo of what the same area looks like in April 2012.

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