U.S. Forest Service works to reclaim Jasper fire area - KOTA Territory News

U.S. Forest Service works to reclaim Jasper fire area

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It has been 13 years since the Jasper fire burned more than 80,000 acres in the Black Hills. Including the Roger Shack fire, it's more than 90,000 acres. Because of these massive fires, National Forest Officials now have new management actions in place.

"Recently we released an environmental assessment which made a decision to do some prescribed burning in certain areas out here to reduce the fuel," said Hell Canyon District Ranger, Lynn Kolund.

The prescribed burns will get rid of dead trees and reduce fire hazard. It will also provide a safer environment for firefighters when dealing with other fires.  

"This area is difficult to walk in at times, much less to fight fire in," said Gwen Lipp, Fire Management Officer for the Hell Canyon Ranger District.

Prescribed burning will take place over ten years. Burning could begin this fall, which is the perfect time to burn.  

"It allows us to have more control over the weather and do it under our conditions versus Mother Nature's conditions," said Lipp.

But prescribed burning is not their only plan. "We have a tree planting contract and we have 147,000 seedlings that were grown from seed that was collected on the Black Hills," said Kolund.

Lipp says when it comes to greening up the area, teamwork is key.  

"We're really working together side by side, the fuels people, the firefighters, the timber specialist to really make this place back to pre jasper conditions," said Lipp.  

Forest officials say it will take generations to make this area look like it did pre Jasper fire, but there's hope.

"It will slowly return, and it will grow up again," said Kolund.

Tree planting starts April 8th and goes through the 23rd. In that time 147,000 ponderosa pine trees will be planted.

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