This past Friday afternoon, some of the journalism students working on the project traveled over to the Prairie Fork Conservation Area near Williamsburg, Missouri to follow up on a possible story idea. Prairie Fork is an example of one of the few existing prairie lands in Missouri, and is part of an ongoing project by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to convert and maintain these lands back to their natural prairie state. The purpose of the visit was to follow up on a story idea that focused on the MDC’s use of controlled fires to preserve and maintain the prairie lands. Usually referred to as an “prairie burn,” this process involves igniting man-made fires to help clear the land as well as provide nutrients, encourages biodiversity and seed development and reduces shrubbery growth.
This is where the Missouri Drone Journalism Program comes in.
In an attempt to use drones in new and emerging ways, the program is hoping to use several drones to capture aerial video footage of the prairie burn while it is in progress and utilize that footage as part of a multimedia story about prairie burns in mid-Missouri. The hope is to capture this prairie burn from angles that wouldn’t be possible using traditional methods, and to eventually have the story published on KBIA.
Below is a short clip of Jeff Demand, wildlife management biologist from the MDC, explaining how a prairie burns work, and how members of the MDC plan to direct the prairie burn.