What are prescribed burns and how do they benefit South Dakota wildland?

Local News

BLACK HILLS, S.D. (KELO) — If you see smoke out in Western KELOLAND over the next few months, it may not be a wildfire, but a prescribed burn.

Wind Cave National Park had a 308 acre prescribed burn over last weekend. The fire took years of planning.

“Anytime you are dealing with a prescribed fire you have to be very careful. There’s a lot of associated risks and benefits of doing a burn like this,” Farrell said.

Information Officer Tom Farrell says a big reason for fire at the park is to help prevent future wildfires.

“To reduce fuel load from the ponderosa pine, reduce the encroachment of young ponderosa pine on the prairie and to also improve water flow into the cave,” Farrell said.

Chris Stover with the National Forest Service says prescribed burns in the Black Hills happen during fall and winter months.

“The Black Hills National Forest and just the forest we live in, our environment is a fire-adapted, fire-dependent ecosystem and we need to be able to get fire back into that ecosystem whenever possible. Most folks might agree that a prescribed fire is probably the better way to do than wildfire around here,” Chris Stover, Fuel Specialist, said.

The Black Hills National Forest and Wind Cave National Park have been prescribing fires for decades.

“You can see by all the shields behind me that’s a lot of folks that are going through this dispatch center. So we really do look at prescribed fires as an interagency effort,” Stover said.

An interagency effort that improves habitats, promotes tree growth and protects nearby homes.

Fire officials ask that people check social media or follow KELOLAND News for updates on prescribed fires in your area.

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