Being careful with forest campfires

Anyone who has ever heard of Smokey Bear knows the importance of making sure campfires don't cause forest fires, but the Missouri Department of Conservation asks deer hunters to help protect the state's forest resources by exercising two kinds of campfire caution.

Rainfall at the opening of firearms deer season reduced the danger of wildfires, but with drought conditions still prevailing in much of Missouri, caution still needs to be exerciesed.

"When you leave your campfire, you want to make sure that it's out cold. Whether it means letting everything burn dow,stirring it, or dousing it with water, you just want to be sure it's completely cold to the touch before you leave your campfire," said Danny Hartwig of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Less well known, but potentially more damaging, is the possibility of spreading forest pests by moving firewood from place to place. The gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, Asian long-horned beetle and thousand cankers disease are among pests with the potential to devastate Missouri's multi-million dollar forest-products industry, not to mention the ecological damage they could cause.

These pests can hitch rides on firewood moved from one area to another. The best way to avoid introducing these pests to new areas is to obtain and burn firewood locally.