Officials with the Black Hills National Forest are planning a series of prescribed burns across the Hills in the coming months. Fall weather can bring the right conditions for larger scale controlled burning.
Chris Stover is an Assistant Fire Management Officer with the Forest Service on the Mystic Ranger District in the Black Hills.
“The prime reason we like to burn is that fire is an ecologically necessary part of the environment in which we live here,” says Stover.
“And, we set these objectives to be able to go out and reduce surface fuels, or we’re going to improve big game habitat, or whatever those objectives are. But probably the key thing folks need to realize is that we live in a fire adapted and somewhat fire dependent ecosystem and when we exclude fire we can only put certain tools into place to be able to mimic that. And, by introducing fire we’re doing a much better job at filling that ecological role that natural fires normally do for us here,” Stover adds.
Stover says the rainfall this summer and fall has left more water in the forest than officials like to have to get the most effective controlled burn. He says crews monitor the weather and forest conditions carefully to determine the best window for prescribed fire.
Later this winter when the snow falls crews are also hoping to burn more than 10-thousand piles of slash leftover from thinning operations.