Wind Cave National Park prepares for upcoming prescribed burn
WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D — Planning is underway to burn 676 acres of land surrounding the park’s developed area, and 669 acres adjacent to the Elk Mountain Campground next spring.
The fall burn could occur as early as the week of October 18, and the project area includes dense and open ponderosa pine forest with a grass understory, which is a wildland urban interface area involving structures in the park’s headquarters area and a nearby private residence.
National Park Service firefighters with support from other interagency resources will assist with the burn.
“Prescribed burns help reduce the threat of wildfires and allows firefighters to better protect homes and structures,” said Superintendent Leigh Welling. “The primary objectives of this burn are to reduce fuel loading in the ponderosa pine forest and to decrease encroachment of young ponderosa pine onto the prairie, improving the flow of water into the cave.”
Smoke from the fire may be heavy at times along Highway 385 and visible from the surrounding area during the day of the burn. Smoke could also be visible for several days following the burn.
Park operations are expected to be impacted, like the Prairie Vista Trail behind the Visitor Center, which will be closed during fire operations and possibly for two weeks following the burn.