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Prescribed burns planned on Missouri River islands and sandbars


Several prescribed burns are tentatively planned on islands and sandbars in the Missouri River on the South Dakota-Nebraska border.

The burns are planned in an area between Running Water and Springfield on the South Dakota side of the Missouri River and Niobrara and Santee in Nebraska. The burns will be conducted by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The burns aim to control and eliminate an invasive plant called Phragmites, a large common reed grass found in wetlands. Clearing these designated areas is beneficial to both wildlife and vegetation. The process will allow a greater variety of wetland plants to grow and help provide nesting and foraging habitat for the piping plover, a small and threatened type of shorebird.

Recent red flag warnings in the area have made burning difficult. Low humidity and strong winds create conditions where fires could easily spread. But the officials say they will take every precaution to ensure the safety of the project. The proposed burn areas are surrounded by water and large stretches of sand.

Megan hosts All Things Considered and the SDPB News podcast.