Forest Service continues slash pile burns to reduce wildfire fuel
Members of the U.S. Forest Service continued to burn slash piles to cut down on wildfire fuel.
DEADWOOD, S.D. — Members of the U.S. Forest Service took to northern hills Wednesday morning.
“We are working to reduce the intensity and severity of future wildland fires,” said Brian Rafferty, an Assistant Fire management Officer with the U.S. Forest Service.
The Forest Service burned around 200-300 piles of the Deadwood Fuels project, one of three in the Black Hills. This was an effort to burn piles of woody debris, or slash piles, which reduces the amount of hazardous fuels for wildfires.
Two weeks ago, another prescribed burn was held near the same location, just down the hill. Officials say it was a great opportunity to plan for Wednesday’s burn while waiting for the most favorable weather.
“We have what call ‘up-slope snow effect’ here on the northern hills and the north zone, so we get additional snow fall that other areas such as Rapid City, Hill City and Custer don’t have; and so we have a little bit of a wider burning window or longer burning window to burn these kind of piles then areas in the southern hills do,” Rafferty said.
To take advantage of the optimal weather, where at least two inches of snow on the ground is required to burn, the burns are done quickly.
“We’re going to be very aggressive, trying to get as many piles as we can with that kind of snow because it’s actually the perfect depth for us to burn, in that the snow remains on site for a while but it’s not too deep where the pile has a hard time getting ignited and combusting,” Rafferty said.
The location and increase in precipitation making the northern hills a prime spot for prescribed burns at this time.
Rafferty said that there are a total of four Black Hills National Forest Pile Burning events occurring.
One in each of the central, northern and southern Black Hills as well as one near Sundance, Wyoming.