Fire is one of the management tools used at Wind Cave National Park in the southern Black Hills to help maintain the health and natural balance of the grassland and forest. The park uses prescribed fires to achieve a more "natural" state by reducing accumulated fuel levels, reducing ponderosa pine encroachment on the grasslands, and eliminating exotic plants and increasing the diversity and health of native plant species.
Earlier this month, however, a prescribed burn at Wind Cave grew out of control in high winds and the Cold Brook Fire scorched 6,500 acres in the park. But even though the fire escaped control lines, Frank Carroll writes in a recent Rapid City Journal column that the fire will turn out to be just what the doctor ordered.
Carroll is a former fire management officer, planner, and public affairs officer with the U.S. Forest Service. He's currently a partner with Professional Fire Management, LLC. He joined Dakota Midday with his thoughts on fire management and the Cold Brook Fire.