Wildland Fire Management

River cutting through wooded areas
Wildland fire is important for a thriving ecosystem. There are many ecosystems within the riverway and fire impacts them all in different ways.

NPS / Van Tatenhove

The Wildland Fire Management team works to manage wildfire at Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway by responding to unplanned fires and planning and managing planned ignitions. Both efforts ensure the safety and health of area resources, wildlife, communities, and people.


The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is approximate 250 miles long running form Cable WI to Prescot WI. Throughout its length, it crosses numerous different ecosystems and fire environments. The southern portion of the Riverway is dominated by moist hardwood forests containing red oak, American elm, ash, maple and basswood. Wildfires in this forest type are rare, approximately every 500 years, generally only occurring after blowdown events, such as tornadoes or straight-line winds from severe thunderstorm. Fires in this environment were extremely hot and killed all aboveground plants. The site was then revegetated from wind blown seed of from seed surviving in the ground.

The central portion of the Riverway has areas of very sandy soils from soil complexes known and the Anoka sand plain and the Northwest Sands of Wisconsin. These soils support prairies, savanna, and oak and pine forests. These ecosystems burned very frequently, as often as every two to five years in prairie and savanna systems. Many of these fires were started by Native Americans for a variety of reasons. Pine and oak forests burned less frequently, generally every 10 to 40 years. Although fires in these types were hot, they burned quickly and most of the plants survive the fires. In some instances, where dense stands of jack pine are present, fires can be very intense consuming the entire forest canopy. Though the adult trees are killed, a new forest is reseeded from the seed stored in the jack pine’s cones.

The upper portion of the Riverway is dominated by northern forest types containing a mix of red, white and jack pine, aspen, birch, spruce and balsam fir. Depending on the forest’s type and age, fires in these forests may be mild, creeping through the understory consuming only the litter and small plants. In older forests, especially where spruce and fir are dense, fires can be intense killing large areas of forest. Forest are reseeded by adjacent unburned areas.

News and Media

News about the wildland fire program at Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway can be found on the park's news releases page. Media inquiries can be forwarded to the park's Public Affairs office.

Prevention and Education
Prevention and Education

Learn about how you can help prevent the start and spread of dangerous wildfire at Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Link to the wildland fire program
Wildland Fire Program (NPS)

Link to the National Park Service's wildland fire program


These park units include: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, St Croix National Scenic Riverway, George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site, Pullman National Monument, River Raisin National Battlefield Park, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, North Country National Scenic Trail, and the Mississippi National River Recreation Area.

Last updated: September 10, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

401 North Hamilton Street
St. Croix Falls, WI 54024


715 483-2274

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