Mark Twain Forest to undergo controlled burns

ROLLA, Mo. (AP) -- The Mark Twain National Forest will undergo prescribed burns in the coming months to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

The U.S. Forest Service says the burns in southern Missouri will reduce fuels on the forest floor from last year's ice and wind storms. They also are intended to improve the forest's health and wildlife habitat.

Residents and travelers to the area who encounter smoke are advised to drive slowly and keep their lights on low beam. Anyone with smoke sensitivities should ask the nearest ranger station to give them advance warning of a burn, officials say.

The Forest Service says it will conduct the burns only when wind speed, humidity, temperature and other conditions are right.