Wind Cave National Park gears up for next prescribed burn

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WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD – Planning is underway to burn 676 acres of land surrounding the developed area of ​​the park and 669 acres adjacent to Elk Mountain Campground next spring.

Fall burning could occur as early as the week of October 18, and the project area includes dense, open ponderosa pine forest with a grassy understory, which is a wild urban interface area involving structures in the park headquarters area and a private residence nearby.

National Park Service firefighters with support from other interagency resources will assist with the burn.

“Prescribed burns help reduce the threat of forest fires and allow firefighters to better protect homes and structures,” said Superintendent Leigh Welling. “The main objectives of this burn are to reduce the fuel load in the ponderosa pine forest and to reduce the encroachment of young ponderosa pines on the prairie, thereby improving the flow of water into the cave. “

Smoke from the fire can sometimes be abundant along Route 385 and visible from the surrounding area during the day of the burn. Smoke may also be visible for several days after the burn.

Park operations are expected to be affected, such as the Prairie Vista Trail behind the Visitor Center, which will be closed during fire operations and possibly for two weeks after the burn.

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