Stop 4. Benefits: Managed Woodlands Benefit Society - Oak Fire Science

Mixed oak and pine woodlands at our stop on Trail Nine Road and throughout the pinery provide benefits to people and animals, past and present.

In our Stop 4 podcast, Missouri State Parks naturalist Ken McCarty describes how thousands of park visitors find beauty and enjoy nature in parks managed with fire.

Also, fire researcher Michael Stambaugh tells how Native Americans used fire, and biologists Erin Yeoman and Frank Thompson tell how woodlands provide opportunities for hunters, hikers, bird watchers and plant lovers.

Stop 4. societal benefits of managed shortleaf pine-oak woodlands
Stop 4 Interpretive Sign. Click to read and view the full sign

Sign location, latitude/longitude: 36.90, -91.10


If you can’t be on site when you listen to the podcast, put yourself there in your mind by scrolling through the photos below. Be sure to read the sign, too.

Stop 4 on Trail Nine Road is a classic pine-oak woodland.

After a fire passes through the Current River Pinery, wild turkeys move in quickly looking for exposed acorns. Photo: Mo. Dept. of Conservation. (Time code 0:00 – 0:42)

Fire stimulates plant growth. Native Americans burned woods to improve forage for hunted animals such as deer, elk (above), and turkeys, and to promote growth of berries and basket-making materials. Photo: Mo. Dept. of Conservation. (Time code 1:27 – 2:45 )

A prairie warbler perches in an Ozark glade. Fire creates wildlife habitat, so bird watching can be colorful and musical in the pinery, especially in late spring and early summer when both migrant birds and nesting birds are present. Photo: Susan Farrington. (Time code 2:46 – 3:28)

During the growing season, there’s always something blooming in the pinery. (Time code 3:30 – 3:41 )

Big Spring, Missouri’s largest spring, is only six miles northeast from Stop 4. Roots from the pinery’s trees and understory plants slow soil erosion, keeping sediment out of clear Ozark streams and springs. (Time code 3:42 – 3:56 )

Keeping streams clear is good for swimmers, floaters and fishing enthusiasts. (Time code 3:56 – 4:05 )


Landowners outside the Current River Pinery also manage with fire, particularly in Missouri State Parks, where 40,000 acres in 35 parks are in a prescribed fire program. (Time code 5:05 – 5:52 )

There’s a difference “like night and day” between a fire-managed open woodland, like this one at HaHa Tonka State Park, where you can see birds, butterflies, and wildflowers, and …… (Time code 5:53 – 6:14)

…. a thick forest, like this one nearby, also at HaHa Tonka State Park. It is heavy on trees, but light on other kinds of life. (Time code 6:15 – 6:26 )

Visitors may not realize that they are in a place managed with prescribed fire, like this picnic area at Hawn State Park, but they can easily see that it’s pretty. Thus, prescribed fire benefits society by providing a backdrop for people’s enjoyment of nature as they hike, birdwatch, and camp. (Time code 6:27 – 8:00)



Stop 4. Benefits: Managed Woodlands Benefit Society

  • Project partners: Oak Woodlands and Forests Fire Consortium, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Central Hardwoods Joint Venture, and the Joint Fire Science Program.
  • Podcast series producer and narrator: Denise Henderson Vaughn, Mountain View, Mo.
  • Podcast series theme music: Van Colbert, Willow Springs, Mo., on banjo.
  • Stop 4 podcast interviewees:
    • Michael Stambaugh, Associate Research Professor, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.
    • Erin Yeoman, Natural Resource Specialist, USDA Forest Service, Mark Twain National Forest, Doniphan, Mo.
    • Frank Thompson, Research Wildlife Biologist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Columbia, Mo.
    • Ken McCarty, Natural Resource Management Section Chief, Missouri State Parks, Jefferson City, Mo.
  • Stop 4 field recordings: Wild turkey, Paul Marvin, All others by Vaughn.
  • Stop 4 website photos:  Vaughn, except as noted in captions or on photos.

Take the Current River Pinery tour in person! Here’s how and where. For a printable map and directions, click here.

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