Wind Cave National Park Plans Spring Prescribed Fires
April 03, 2006
Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130
Depending on weather and fuel conditions, park management plans to conduct a series of small prescribed fires this spring. Each burn is estimated at approximately 130 acres with a potential for 565 total acres to be burned. The fires will be south of the Rankin Ridge Fire Tower and east of Highway 87. The burns could begin as early as April 17.
Park Superintendent Linda L. Stoll said, “These burns are a continuation of a project to burn approximately thirty-one hundred acres in and around the Rankin Ridge Fire Tower. The first burn in this project occurred last October. After this spring’s burns, we plan to burn two more units totaling a little over fourteen hundred acres within the next two years.”
These fires will occur in an area that is primarily ponderosa pine forest with some mixed-grass prairie. The burn will be conducted with assistance from other National Park Service units and local cooperators. No road or trail closures are anticipated. Smoke from the fire may be heavy at times and will be visible from the surrounding region.
This fire represents a continuation of the park's successful prescribed fire program which began in 1972. Segments of the park are burned each year, under controlled conditions, to simulate natural fires. Prescribed fires maintain the balance between forest and prairie, remove the build-up of dead fuels lessening the chance of a catastrophic wildfire, and rejuvenate the native prairie grasses.
Prescribed fires are carefully conducted under identified and approved prescription conditions. Factors such as humidity, fuel moisture, wind speed and direction, and short and long-range weather patterns are all considered in establishing the acceptable conditions for conducting a prescribed fire. If the prescribed set of conditions does not exist on a specific day, the planned fire is postponed.