Black Hills National Forest crews burn slash piles to mitigate wildfire

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 8:03 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - It’s winter and that mean more burns in the Black Hills, all to keep the wildfires down throughout the rest of the year.

The Deadwood fuels project was implemented in 2018 to mitigate fire danger. Phase one included contractors thinning tree limbs a few summers ago, creating slash piles for the Black Hills National Forest crews to then burn.

“It creates that fuel break, it thins out the under story of the forest, and allows us to create this fuel break for the potential of any kind of wildfire in the summer, so we like to reduce those fuels in this area that’s surrounded by lodge here and the city of Deadwood,” said John Snyder, Northern Hills Ranger District fuels assistant fire management officer.

For the crews to do their jobs, the conditions must be just right. If there are more than five inches of snow on the ground, they can’t burn the piles.

“If it’s too warm, the snow will melt ... therefore we might have a big problem in our hands where the piles could escape and get a little bit larger impact the subdivision in Deadwood area,” said Brandon Fischer, Black Hills National Forest fuels technician.

The crews are now on the project’s second phase, and Snyder says the weather conditions will determine how long the burn process can last

“As of now, we have no intentions to continue. We’ve worked all the way to the end, all the way up to the Mount Roosevelt tower, and now it s just implementing the burning portion,” Snyder explained.

If you see smoke in the Deadwood area, the Forest Service wants to remind the public that it’s a prescribed burn.