Abstract - Prescribed Fire in Wind Cave National Park
Bone, S. and Klukas, R. 1989. Prescribed Fire in Wind Cave National Park. 17 p.
Total protection from fire through aggressive suppression has changed the ecological balance of the ponderosa pine-mixed grass prairie complex of Wind Cave National Park. Since fire has been determined to be a vital force in maintaining the natural composition and distribution of plant communities, it is necessary to consider the use of prescribed fire as a substitute for the unwanted man-caused and natural fires which can no longer be allowed to burn within the Black Hills. The success of reintroducing fire is attributed to information derived from research, the cooperative efforts of affected various land management agencies, effective public relations, participation by ranchers, and management of both wildland and prescribed burning activity. Since 1973, Wind Cave National Park has expanded its prescribed fire program from small ground ignition plot burning of 100 - 150 hectares (ha) to present day sophisticated aerial ignition unit burns of 1,000 ha. This has provided an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the effect of fire on vegetation and ungulate grazing patterns and preferences, as well as the potential for fire to enhance surface water flows.
Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.