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Contact: Bill Whitworth, 701-623-4466
The National Park Service plans to implement prescribed fire projects in Theodore Roosevelt National Park's North and South Units between April 3 and May 20,2014.
Portions of two separate areas covering nearly 3,000 acres could receive burn treatments this spring. Both burn units are located in the South Unit.The first area is approximately 400 acres and is adjacent to interstate 94, between the Painted Canyon Visitor Center and the Fryburg Exit.The second area, totaling 2500 acres, is located east of Wind Canyon between the Jones Creek Trail and the scenic loop road to the north.
A primary objective of the burns is to restore fire to areas of the park that have historically been subjected to natural periodic wildfire.Nearly one third of the topography within the burn units includes clay buttes, moist drainages, and areas of bare ground that will not burn.These natural firebreaks greatly reduce the total area that actually burns and help firefighters contain the fire to desired areas, avoiding impacts to fire sensitive vegetation and culturally important sites.The resulting mosaic of burned and unburned areas is the desired outcome and would be expected in a naturally occurring fire.
"Occassional fire, in concert with grazing by bison and other large herbivores, is a natural process that continues to support healthy prairie ecosystems within the park,"said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "Much like a rancher's ability to move cattle from one pasture to another, the intensity of prescribed fires can be manipluated to achieve optimal resource benefits."
The park planned but did not conduct these prescribed fires last year due to extremenly dry conditions in the region.If favorable weather and vegetative conditions return this spring to allow for safe burns, local fire departments and law enforcement agencies will be notified and signs will be placed along the scenic drive and at park visitor centers to notify the public.National Park Service personnel will be assisted by other federal land management agencies to carry out the prescribed burns. A small section of the park's South Unit Scenic Drive may be temporarily closed as necessary for visitor safety.
Information will be available on the park's website at www.nps.gov/thro.In addition, 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.