The USDA Forest Service is charged with managing and protecting 154 national forests and 20 grasslands. With budget constraints, sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands has become a challenge. Using partnerships, such as the one with the NWTF, the work is being completed.
In Missouri and Illinois, the NWTF has been helping the Forest Service by augmenting their prescribed burn programs. In these areas, the Forest Service uses helicopters to conduct landscape-scale burning. Although aerial ignition is effective, it is not cheap. By increasing funds available for these type burns through the NWTF's Super Fund, the Forest Service is able to accomplish more burns.
Using these funds, the Forest Service and partners conducted prescribed burns on 4,000 acres in the East Fork and Rock Creek Units of the Cassville Ranger District in Barry County. These areas fall within the Ozark Focal Landscape in southwest Missouri.
This area has a lower wild turkey population, which is why the NWTF selected this focal landscape to work in, said John Burk, NWTF district biologist.
“More open woodland means more, high quality nesting and brood-rearing habitat, and more nesting and brood-rearing habitat means better turkey production,” Burk said.