Winter season burn permits available

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) Since the Black Hills is a forested area and susceptible to wildfires, permits are required to burn within the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District.

A map showing the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District. (South Dakota Wildland Fire)

Permits are only valid for burning slash piles, an accumulation of natural debris, when there is continuous snow cover around the pile and the depth of snow is at least two inches. Large piles require at least six inches of snow cover.

Raymond Bubb is the Fire Management Officer for the South Dakota Wildland Fire Divison and said January is a good time of year to burn slash piles because of the snow and cold weather.

Bubb said in Western South Dakota every blade of grass counts to keep a thriving agriculture industry, so being responsible when burning and getting a permit is necessary.

"Most people look at the Black Hills as a beautiful and forested area, but the Black Hills is actually an agricultural product. So we preserve this product by not letting people do crazy things and let it all burn to the ground. It does not take much and you'd be surprised some of the conditions some people think it's okay to burn in when it's not," said Bubb.

Inside city limits burn ordinances are in place. Violating a burning ordinance in Pennington County can result in a fine up to $500 or jail time.

Residents within the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District may apply for a burn permit that is valid until March 31, free of charge, online.