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Roadside prescribed fire. Badlands National Park. April 2002.
Fire is an essential part of Northern Great Plains (NGP) ecosystems; possibly as important as factors such as climate, soils, and topography in controlling distribution of plant and animal species across the landscape. For that reason, prescribed fires are an important tool for managing natural resources in National Parks of the NGP.

Prescribed fires are carefully planned events. Burn plans are prepared for each prescribed fire. These plans contains information about wind conditions, weather, season, humidity, the amount of moisture in the dead vegetation, and the quantity and availability of fuel (natural build up of leaf litter and woody growth). Burn plans also include precautions to prevent the fire from becoming an uncontrolled wildfire. In addition, a fire plan specifies emergency procedures to handle an uncontrolled fire, should it become necessary.

An important part of a burn plan is the burn prescription. Acceptable conditions for elements such as relative humidity, temperature, wind speed and direction, and fuel moisture are defined. This prescription guides the decision of whether or not to burn on a given day. When all of these elements are within the described prescription, the prescribed fire can be completed.

Why Prescribed Fire?

Follow the links below to find information about recent prescribed fires at National Parks in the NGP.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
A Fire Management Plan is currently being written. Initiation of a prescribed fire program is scheduled for 2003.

Badlands National Park

Devils Tower National Monument

Fort Union Trading Post NHS

Jewel Cave National Monument
Over 90% of the monument burned in the Jasper Fire (August 2000). The prescribed fire program will be re-initiated in 3-5 years.

Knife River Indian Villages NHS

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
The Fire Management Plan is currently being revised. Initiation of a prescribed fire program is planned for 2004.

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Wind Cave National Park

Updated: April 29, 2003 Disclaimer
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