Naturally occurring fires have historically been an important factor in determining plant and animal distribution and composition in Missouri. While natural fires are random and uncontrolled, prescribed burning is the process of applying a controlled fire to a predetermined area to meet certain goals and objectives. Prescribed fire is used as a tool to manage natural communities and planted grass stands. It can set back succession by controlling woody invasion, improve wildlife habitat by stimulating desirable and suppressing undesirable plant species, improve poor grazing distribution, and reduce wildfire risk. Other uses of prescribed burning include preparing sites for planting or seeding, removing slash or debris, and enhancing seed production of target plant species.