Missouri’s new Prescribed Burning Act will go into effect Aug. 28, allowing for the practice to be used as a land management tool.
Gov. Mike Parson recently signed HB 369, which defines liability as it relates to the use of prescribed fire. Before this legislation, Missouri was one of only five states that did not have such a definition in state statute. This measure allows landowners and contractors to purchase liability insurance for conducting prescribed burns and increase the use of prescribed fire as a land management tool.
"With Gov. Parson's signature, HB 369 goes into effect next month and removes Missouri from the short list of states that do not have a definition for prescribed burning liability in their state statute,” says Mossie Schallon, Conservation Federation of Missouri president.
The Conservation Federation of Missouri, which celebrated its 85th anniversary last year, was founded by a citizen-led effort to keep politics out of conservation and preserve outdoor heritage.
Feral hogs addressed
The Prescribed Burning Act also includes other conservation legislation, including creating harsher penalties for the release of feral hogs in Missouri. Repeat offenders can now be charged with a felony for each feral swine that is released.
Feral hogs are highly destructive to wildlife habitat and agricultural production alike. The increased penalties will help further reduce the number of feral swine on Missouri's landscapes.
Lessoning landowner liability
Also included are several measures that will protect landowners from liability for injuries incurred by recreational users. This benefits landowners adjacent to recreational public lands, campground owners and those who invite third parties to provide wildlife management services on their property.
"The magnitude and impact that this will have on so many Missourians that care about the outdoors are almost unprecedented. CFM applauds the efforts of so many that made this historic legislation a reality,” says Tyler Schwartz, Conservation Federation of Missouri executive director. “Along with our partners, members, affiliates and so many more, we are proud to help lead the effort to protect and enhance conservation, natural resources and outdoor recreation for generations to come.”
Rep. Tim Taylor, R-Bunceton, sponsored HB 369 and worked with House and Senate members to ensure its passage. Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, sponsored a similar bill in the Senate and provided amendments to further additional conservation goals.