February 16, 2021

Support for Prescribed Burning Act Heats Up During Committee Hearings in Missouri

Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator

Last week, both the House and Senate versions of Missouri’s “Prescribed Burning Act” (HB 369 and SB 301) were before the House Rural Community Development and Senate Agriculture, Food Products, and Outdoor Resources Committees, respectively. Ahead of the Senate Committee’s hearing, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a formal testimony letter in support of this effort. 

These bills seek to define liability standards for landowners who wish to use prescribed fire as a management practice to improve wildlife habitat quality, promote oak establishment, or reduce fuel accumulation – which could contribute to dangerous wildfires – on their property. Currently, Missouri is one of five states in which liability standards are not currently defined, leading to concerns that have caused many landowners to pass on using prescribed fire. By defining liability standards for prescribed burning at simple negligence and working with the Missouri Department of Conservation to establish a prescribed burn manager certification curriculum, HB 369 and SB 301 will eliminate this barrier.

As mentioned during the Midwest’s pre-session preview, the Prescribed Burn Act has been a top priority for many of Missouri’s sportsmen’s and conservation organizations who appreciate the important benefits that prescribed burning can provide for the Show-Me State’s fire-adapted ecosystems. During these hearings, several mission partner organizations testified before each committee to voice their support. Each bill now awaits formal approval by each committee before moving to their respective chambers for further consideration.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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