Park Prepares for Fall Prescribed Fire

Supervisory Forest Technician Jason Devcich using a chainsaw to cut down a tree.
Supervisory Forest Technician Jason Devcich preparing for a 617-acre prescribed fire this fall at Wind Cave National Park.

NPS Photo: Brent Thiel

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News Release Date: August 27, 2009

Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-745-4600

Wind Cave National Park, S.D. – Fire crews are busy laying hose and constructing mow lines in preparation for a 617-acre prescribed fire planned this fall in Wind Cave National Park. If weather and fuel conditions are within prescription, park management plans to conduct the fire in an area west of the visitor center and south of the Elk Mountain Campground.

“This fire is the third in a series of burns we are doing around the campground and visitor center to reduce fuel loads and protect the developed area from wildfires,” said park superintendent Vidal Davila. 

Assisting with the burn are firefighters from other National Park Service units, the State of South Dakota, and the U.S. Forest Service. The Elk Mountain Campground and a nearby hiking trail will be closed the day of the burn. Visitors can use the park’s picnic area for camping instead. No other road or trail closures are anticipated. Smoke from the fire may be heavy at times and will be visible from the surrounding area.

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. Prescribed fires maintain the balance between forest and prairie, remove the build-up of dead fuels lessening 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. 

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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