Wind Cave National Park preparing for prescribed burn

Wind Cave National Park holds prescribed burnWIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Wind Cave National Park is planning to burn 1,037 acres of land adjacent to the Elk Mountain Campground this fall with the fire occurring as early as the week of Oct. 2.

The project area includes dense and open ponderosa pine forest with a grass understory that’s a part of a wildland urban interface area involving structures in the park’s headquarters area and a nearby private residence.

Ignition will take place through the utilization of ground resources, and the primary carrier of fire will be grass. Assisting with the burn will be National Park Service firefighters with support from other interagency resources.

“Prescribed fires such as this help reduce the buildup of fuels that could result in a catastrophic wildfire that threatens park structures and a nearby private residence,” said Park Superintendent Leigh Welling. “It will also decrease the encroachment of young ponderosa pine onto the prairie while improving water flow into the cave.”

During the day of the burn, smoke from the fire may be heavy at times along Highway 385 and 87 and visible from the surrounding region. These highways, and roads leading into the visitor center area, might be closed intermittently for safety reasons.

Unless there is significant precipitation, smoke may be seen in the area for several days following the burn.

This fire represents a continuation of the park’s prescribed fire program which began in 1972. Prescribed fires maintain the balance between forest and prairie, removes the build-up of dead fuels which reduces the chances of catastrophic wildfires and rejuvenates the native prairie grasses.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News