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Contact: Eileen Andes, 701-623-4466
Contact: Bill Whitworth, 701-623-4466
MEDORA, ND: The National Park Service plans to conduct prescribed fires in the North and South Units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park between May 8 and May 20, 2015. The decision to implement fire projects requires a favorable forecast for specific weather conditions.
Several fire units covering nearly 2,200 acres in the South Unit may be burned this spring. A 400 acre burn unit is located in the southeastern corner of the park near the Painted Canyon Overlook. Burn units in the North Unit cover 1,800 acres in the northwest corner and between the Longhorn Flats pullout and the Little Missouri River.
The primary objective of the burns is to restore fire to areas of the park that have historically been subjected to periodic wildfire. Clay buttes, moist drainages, and other areas of bare ground characteristic of the badlands topography will not burn. These natural firebreaks reduce the total burned area and help firefighters contain fire to desired areas, avoiding impacts to fire sensitive vegetation and culturally important sites. The resulting mosaic of burned and unburned areas mimics naturally occurring fires and is the desired outcome.
"Careful prescribed fire application combined with regulation of bison, elk, and feral horse populations is an important vegetation and habitat management tool. Natural fire episodes are essential for native species growth and ecosystem balance in the Little Missouri Badlands," said Acting Superintendent Wendy Ross. "Visitors can explore the site of the 2014 Beef Corral Wash prescribed fire, a 2,500 acre area east of Wind Canyon and north of Jones Creek, to see a landscape maintained by fire."
In past years, the park canceled several planned prescribed fires because of extremely dry conditions. If sufficient moisture and fuel conditions return this spring to allow safe burns, park managers will notify local fire and law enforcement agencies and the public. Other land management agencies will assist National Park Service staff with burn operations. Sections of the park's roads may be closed temporarily for visitor safety.
Information will be available on the park's website at www.nps.gov and on social media via Twitter @TRooseveltNPS and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheodoreRooseveltNationalPark. An excellent source of fire information specific to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Northern Great Plains can be found at www.nps.gov/ngpfire/thro.htm.