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13 Dec 2023 5:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Eureka Springs Independent

Ranger touts forest burn benefits


 Becky Gillette


December 13, 2023

 The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Big Piney District Robert’s Gap Project would have many benefits including a “wide variety of needed treatments which would reduce fuel loading, in turn reducing dangers of wildfires, improve forest health, improve wildlife and aquatic habitat, protect private property in the wildland-urban interface and increase species diversity,” District Ranger Tim Jones said.

Jones said this forest and project area was once a fire-dominated ecosystem. Frequent fires eliminated shade-tolerant species from the understory which provided ample forage for many species of wildlife and maintained habitat for pollinators.

 “Past forest management practices have caused a reduction in the number of insects (pollinators), small mammals, seed eating birds, deer and wild turkey and have created a condition that could result in a damaging wildfire situation,” Jones said. “Based on monitoring data, the reintroduction of fire has improved conditions within prescribed burn areas on the district. The project area is a fire-adapted ecosystem in which fire has been excluded for many years. These areas could be repeatedly burned for fuel reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, and ecosystem restoration and would move them toward the desired future condition for this management area. Used in conjunction with prescribed burning, these treatments would increase herbaceous plants as well as overall habitat diversity.”

Jones said that to protect the environment and lessen possible negative impacts, protective measures would be used, including best management practices for water quality protection established by the state. The project page link, along with all supporting documentation, can be found at

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