RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Black Hills National Forest is planning to conduct two separate prescribed fires next week, weather dependent. The objectives of both fires are to enhance wildlife habitat and reduce hazardous fuel loads.
The Mystic Ranger District is planning to conduct the Long Draw prescribed fire project November 13-16, 2023. The Long Draw project area is located approximately 5 miles west of Hill City, SD.
The Hell Canyon Ranger District is planning to conduct the Witch prescribed fire project November 14 and 15, 2023. The Witch project area is located approximately 3 miles southwest of Pringle, SD. Alternative funding sources were provided to this project by grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Resource objectives for both fires are focused on enhancing forage for big game wildlife, restoring open forest conditions dominated by ponderosa pine, and reducing fuel loading. Removal of encroaching trees from meadows helps maintain the native plants that grow in these areas and provides forage for wildlife.
“We’re continuing the use of prescribed fire to enhance wildlife habitat and increase public safety,” said Shea Koch, Mystic Fuels Technician, Black Hills National Forest. “Without prescribed fire, forest ecosystems can become overcrowded and contribute to extreme wildfires through the buildup of combustible materials on forest floors.”
We are asking forest visitors and hunters to avoid these areas during this time. Smoke from the prescribed fires will be visible throughout the day of the fire and may linger for several days. Firefighters will be on site throughout the day of ignition and will periodically patrol the fires for several days afterward. If you see smoke from these areas, please refrain from calling 911.
Prescribed fire specialists compare current and predicted environmental conditions to those outlined in prescribe fire plans before deciding whether to implement on a given day. Prescribe fire plans include 21 separate elements including Goals & Objectives, Prescription (weather and fire behavior), Holding plans, and Contingency planning. A prescribed fire will not be ignited unless the conditions meet the criteria described in the written plan.