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Contact: Ace Crawford, 605) 574-3185
(Keystone, SD) – In conjunction with the State of South Dakota, Wildland Fire Suppression Division, and fire personnel from surrounding national parks, Mount Rushmore National Memorial will implement the burning of slash piles within the park boundaries. This prescribed burn is part of the continuing fuels reduction project at the park, and is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, February 23, weather permitting. This work is pursuant to the Memorial’s Fire Management Plan that outlines steps to protect the Memorial from wildfire, reduce excess fire fuel, protect the park’s natural and cultural assets, and enhance visitor and staff safety.
Through a task agreement with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture Wildland Fire Suppression Division, an estimated 800 cured slash piles will be burned this winter at Mount Rushmore. Crews will initiate pile burning as weather conditions allow and action must be approved by NPS management before work commences. “We are excited to work with the State of South Dakota on this joint project. The park always welcomes partnership opportunities, and this a prime example of combining state and federal resources to have this project completed in a timely and cost effective manner,” said Cheryl A. Schreier, Superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Aaren Nellen, Lead Forestry Technician at Wind Cave National Park, will be the project manager and will oversee all operations conducted under this agreement. Burning will be fully monitored by qualified personnel during operational times.
The process of thinning forests is two-fold and typically produces numerous slash piles. The majority of this winter’s burning project will focus on trees that were cut and piled prior to 2010. Following the completion of this winter’s burning effort, attention will be shifted to the slash piles that were created in the fall of 2010, that are a result of the mechanical thinning project recently completed in the park’s undeveloped areas. Mount Rushmore plans to eventually eliminate all piles within the park and decrease the fuel load.
Visitors may see smoke or flames from the slash fires and are encouraged to use caution while traveling in the area.