The National Wild Turkey Federation teamed up with the USDA Forest Service for a controlled burn in the glades of Missouri.
The nearly 9,000-acre controlled burn contributes to more wildlife openings and provides an ideal landscape for native plants and wildlife.
“Fire will keep red cedars from invading the woodlands and glades, which allows for more growth of native plant species,” said Reggie Bray of the Forest Service. “Indicator species, such as the Eastern collared lizard, should be more prominent the more open the glades and surrounding woodland become. Increased habitat for upland game birds, such as the bobwhite quail, and an increase in plant diversity should increase pollinators and other invertebrates in both the glades and the woodlands.”
The project’s overall budget was about $136,292, while the NWTF contributed $13,600 to pay for helicopter hours to ignite the fire from above.
The controlled burn took place on three units, which lessened the smoke impact and reduced resources needed on the ground.
Wild turkeys and several other wildlife species benefitted from the controlled burn.
“As with any prescribed fire, you may see wild turkeys foraging just after the fire has burned through an area, because it exposes food of some sort, i.e., acorns or invertebrates,” Bray said. “It creates new growth, which provides food for not only the wild turkey but for many invertebrates that they feed on as well. The glades provide excellent nesting cover for hens and new hatchlings. In the later summer, the glades are full of invertebrates and are a buffet for young poults.”
Bray also spoke of the resiliency of the project: “The landscape typically responds very quickly after a burn. This ecosystem is very fire adaptive.”
— David Gladkowski