PRESCRIBED FIRE PLANNED AT WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK
Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130
WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Depending on weather and fuel conditions, fire officials at Wind Cave National Park plan to conduct a 93-acre prescribed burn this fall. The land to be burned is located in the Elk Mountain Campground, one-half mile north of the park’s visitor center. The burn could occur as early as October 25.
“This fire will occur in an area that is primarily ponderosa pine forest and short grasses,” said park superintendent Vidal Davila. “This burn will reduce accumulated fuels and pine regeneration, allowing more native grasses an opportunity to grow.”
The burn will be conducted with assistance from other National Park Service units and local cooperators.
The Elk Mountain Campground and nearby hiking trail will be closed during the prescribed fire. 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 which historically burned the forest and prairie. Prescribed fires maintain the balance between forest and prairie, remove the buildup of dead fuels which lessens 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. For this reason, it is impossible to predict the exact date for this prescribed fire.
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.