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Year-round forest management helps prevent catastrophic fires

(Scarlett Lisjak)
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -Temperatures hit 100 degrees on Tuesday, leaving most of the Black Hills categorized as either high fire danger or extreme fire danger. Throughout the year forest rangers help prepare the woods for these types of hot temperature days.

Public Affairs Officer for the Black Hills National Forest, Scott Jacobson says keeping a fire from becoming catastrophic is all about forest management, “really we are thinning the forest non-commercially, that could either be through prescribed fire or basically thinning some of the dog hair-thin kind of trees that were growing up and would reduce fire intensity.”

Hot, dry, and windy are the perfect conditions for a fire to ignite, “when the fire danger is extreme and very high, by reducing those fire hazards throughout the year it keeps the fire intensity on the ground lower in the event that we would have a fire,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson adds when the forest is cleaned up of natural fuel sources everyone benefits, “thinning the forest really helps keep fire on the ground, it creates a safer place for our fire fighters to fight the fire also gives the public a better egress and ingress ways of getting out in an event a fire would start.”

But this sort of fire danger is not exactly common for the Black Hills, “fire dangers today like we have not seen in a long time, I don’t recall seeing extreme fire danger, which is the highest fire danger up in the northern Black Hills and the Spearfish area. I haven’t seen that, so they have had a dry run this last spring and summer, and extreme fire danger is present today,” Jacobson said.

Forest Rangers are monitoring forests in the event a fire would start, they will be right there to put it out quickly.

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