Wind Cave National Park bounces back from escaped prescribed fire

With copious rain over the last five weeks since the Cold Brook prescribed fire escaped control in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota on April 13, the additional 5,000 acres outside the planned burn unit is in serious green-up. Most of the “bonus acres” had been treated at least once with previous prescribed fires, so there was not a heavy build up of fuel within the timbered areas. The escape, even though it was pushed by a strong wind, did not have high mortality in the Ponderosa pines. Most of the areas we saw near U.S. Highway 385 look like a typical prescribed fire in the park, however there were a few patches of pine that were taken out.

All of the photos below were taken by Bill Gabbert on May 22, 2015, 39 days after the fire. Click on the photos to see larger versions.

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire
The bison are enjoying the nutrient-rich fresh green grass in the burned area. The one in the foreground is wallowing in dirt.
Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire
The lower branches on these Ponderosa pines had been burned off in a prescribed fire about 15 years ago, so they were virtually unscathed this time.

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire
One objective of most of the prescribed fires in the Park is to remove some of the pine reproduction that is encroaching into the prairie. The brown seedlings here indicate some success in that regard.

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

Related articles:

Cold Brook prescribed fire escapes in South Dakota
Comparison photos, 6 days and 39 days after escaped prescribed fire

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

One thought on “Wind Cave National Park bounces back from escaped prescribed fire”

  1. Bill,

    a really excellent sets of photos. So the intriguing question is if the park was planning on doing a similar study, as part of fire communication and education, or if they’re letting the opportunity slip away, which would be a real shame.

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