Prescribed Fire Planned
September 20, 2002
Tom Farrell, 605/745-1130
The National Park Service plans to conduct a 1,100-acre prescribed fire in the north-central section of Wind Cave National Park sometime between September 23 and October 31, 2002, weather permitting. The fire will occur in an area that is both mixed-grass prairie and ponderosa pine forest. The burn will be conducted with assistance from the U.S. Forest Service, State of South Dakota, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and local volunteer fire departments.
The area to be burned is along the western side of the NPS 5 road corridor in the northern part of the park. The Highland Creek Trail will be closed while the fire is in progress as will NPS 5. Smoke from the fire may be heavy at times and will be visible from the surrounding region.
This fire represents a continuation of the park's successful prescribed fire program, which began in 1972. A segment of the park is burned each year, under controlled conditions, to simulate natural fires which historically burned the forest and prairie. Prescribed fires maintain the balance between forest and prairie, remove the buildup of dead fuels lessening the chance of a catastrophic wildfire, and rejuvenate the native prairie grasses.
Prescribed fires are carefully conducted only under an identified and approved prescription of conditions. Factors such as air temperature, humidity, fuel moisture, fuel type, fuel size, 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 do not exist on a specific day, the planned fire is canceled for that day. For this reason, it is impossible to accurately predict the exact day when all conditions will be present and the prescribed fire conducted.