AVA, Mo. – Wildland firefighters responded to three wildfires this past month. Employees also completed one prescribed burn last month and are staying busy now that weather has returned that allows for prescribed burning opportunities. The Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs (ACW) Ranger District will be starting to implement prescribed fires as weather permits, over the next couple months.
Also weather-dependent, tree planting is scheduled to start on the Willow Springs unit this month. Contractors are back, working at Washington Bald, cutting cedars that were encroaching on the glades and surrounding woodlands. They should be starting back at Bascomb Bald again within the next couple weeks.
An AmeriCorps crew and a Mingo Job Corp crew are also on the Forest, assisting with multiple projects across the ACW Ranger District. Both of these groups do excellent work on the Forest.
The North Fork Recreation Area is now open for day-use, effective March 1. The day-use portion of the recreation site is the area near the restroom adjacent to the asphalt parking lot. A loop road has been created for people to safely unload kayaks and canoes near the water. This area will be for both water play and water-vessel launching until the new launch is completed. There is no parking in the area between the parking lot and the river – it is for loading/unloading only. The contractor constructing the new launch near the bridge is still working; so users need to be on the lookout for trucks entering and leaving the area. Also, visitors to the recreation site should need to stay clear of the work area – it is a construction site.
This past week, Missouri State University, operating through an agreement with the Forest Service, surveyed the large woody structures (LWS) that were installed in 2016 at North Fork Recreation Area. This group periodically visits the sites to evaluate the integrity of the bank where the LWS was installed. The LWS are successfully serving their purpose, capturing sediment and trapping it in those areas instead of allowing it to deposit further downstream.
Mark Twain needs your help fighting trash dumps and timber theft. A concerned citizen recently sent us photos of trash dumped on Forest Road 539 near Patterson Cemetery southwest of Bradleyville, MO on the Ava unit. The Forest Service cleaned this area a few months ago. Since the very recent cleanup of this area (which included tires, refrigerators, stoves, and household trash), however, people have come back and dumped a vacuum cleaner, air fryer, large battery charger, and a lawn chair on this extremely steep slope.
Forest Service law enforcement officers are also currently investigating several timber theft cases — cedar theft in the Taney County area, walnut theft in the Cassville area, and stolen property issues in the Hayburn area. If anyone has information that could assist in the investigation of these thefts and illegal dumping, please call the Ava office at 417-683-4428.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) winter culling operations are now underway in western Stone County on Mark Twain National Forest. Last month’s newsletter mentioned how CWD was found in this area last fall after two deer, harvested by hunters on the Forest during the 2019 November firearms season, tested positive for CWD. Now officials with the Missouri Department of Conservation are working with local landowners and the Forest to cull deer and test them for CWD. So far, 19 deer have been harvested by local landowners and MDC shooting teams in this 25 square-mile core area. Targeted culling is the only tested method of slowing the growth of CWD in a local deer population.
Test results are back now on the first dozen deer harvested and none of them have tested positive for the disease. Test results are still pending on the remaining seven deer and should be back within a few days. Once a deer is cleared by the test, meat from that deer either goes back to the landowner or to the state’s Share the Harvest program, which gives the meat to local food pantries in Stone and Taney Counties. All processing cost is being paid for by a grant from the Conservation Federation of Missouri so there is no charge to landowners or to the Forest. All deer harvested by culling operations on Mark Twain National Forest are being donated to Share the Harvest.
CWD winter culling operations continued in this core area through March 15 and MDC officials hope to have all test results back by April 1. If you have questions or would like to learn more, you can visit the MDC website at www.mdc.mo.gov/CWD, contact Warren Rose by phone at 417-895-6881 ext: 1640 or email him at Warren.Rose@mdc.mo.gov.