BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KELO) — Fire season in the Black Hills has become a year round event. To prevent more severe wildfires, the National Forest Service uses prescribed burns and vegetation treatments.
The Jasper Fire was one of the largest wildfires in the history of the Black Hills. Today, crews are still treating the area. That work includes a prescribed burn in March.
“There’s a need to reduce fuels in areas such as the Black Hills, where fire is common. It’s important to do it on the forest on a landscape scale and it’s important to do it around communities that are at risk of having wildfires threaten their communities,” Rob Hoelscher, Hell Canyon Ranger District BHNF, said.
These dead logs can also be damaging to the grass. By burning them, the grass has a better chance of growing.
“As that material burns and turns to ash, it becomes fertilizer. That fertilizer will enter into the soil as it rains and that’s going to improve the growth and vigor of the plants that are out here whether it be grass or forbes and such,” Chris Stover, Fuel Specialist, said.
Last month’s Wabash Fire burned 111 acres just outside of Custer. But thanks to vegetation treatment, crews were able to get it under control quickly.
During the Wabash Fire, this neighborhood made up of about 35 homes were evacuated but none of them were damaged.
Including the Big Pine Campground.
“We were a bit concerned at first that it was going to be a black mass over there but as you can see, you can be forgiven if you think there wasn’t even a fire there at one point and they’ve done amazingly to get it extinguished and to prevent future fires and we are really grateful for that,” Bill Paterson, owner of Big Pine, said.
The National Forest Service urges everyone who lives in the Black Hills to be fire conscience and prepare their homes in case of a wildfire.