Crews work to help maintain landscape by fighting fire with fire
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Black Hills region is no stranger to fire.
“For us to exclude fire from the ecosystem is the unnatural state,” Fuel Specialist with the Black Hills National Forest, Chris Stover said. “Fire wants to be here, it belongs here. So we have management ignited fire, prescribed fire under the weather conditions we want to have out here.”
There are 21 factors that go into carrying out a prescribed fire, which include things such as weather, humidity levels and types of fuels being burned.
In this case, crews are focused on the dry grasses on the ground and large logs left over form the Jasper Fire in 2000.
Over 2,400 acres, crews from the Forest Service walked the edges of the burn area, letting the vegetation burn and creating a border for aerial ignition brought on via helicopter. Aerial ignition was carried out in the central parts of the burn area. Ignition items smaller than a ping-pong ball were dropped over the landscape, each containing a material that when punctured and injected with antifreeze created a chemical reaction that started a flame.
The fires work to also help stimulate new growth. In fact, a prescribed burn in the area last week has already help bring out new grass growth, which in turn helps draw more wildlife and activity to the area and protect the landscape.
“The trees are a resource for us,” Stover said. “We want to protect these trees and by reducing the surface fuels, we’re protecting a resource.”