Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Legion Lake Fire: let it burn

A fast-moving wildfire likely started by a downed power line from a falling tree near the Centennial Trail in Republican-owned Custer State Park represents one more failure of the State of South Dakota.

Blue Bell Lodge and the State Game Lodge are among structures being threatened. Evacuations began last afternoon ahead of the Legion Lake Fire which has grown to at least 2500 acres and one structure has been cleared. The park and all roads into the park are closed to the public.

A Rocky Mountain Team Blue Type II has been deployed and the fire remains zero percent contained. Heavy air tankers and fire fighting helicopters have joined the fray as the fire is expected to move onto federal land. Fire swirls, torching and other extreme behavior has been observed. Wind Cave National Park and the Black Hills National Forest have been conducting prescribed burns.

The absence of prescribed burns and the persistence of invasive cheatgrass in the park are just two more examples of poor planning by Game, Fish and Plunder. Instead of allowing native aspen to be restored stands of doghair ponderosa pine that grew after Galena Fire are feeding the wildfire. Ponderosa pine only reached the Black Hills less than four thousand years ago.

Longtime Custer State Park concessionaire Phil Lampert's house is still standing because of the 2015 Cold Brook Fire.

Parts of the Black Hills and the surrounding prairies have been experiencing red flag conditions and extreme fire weather due to poor ranching practices. Just a hundred fifty years ago bison would have cleared the grasses driving today's fire weather but instead they're fed hay by the State of South Dakota.

Northwest winds will increase late tonight from 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph and remain strong through Wednesday morning.

1 comment:

  1. Update, 19 December: "We have strong evidence that human activity has dictated fire regimes for centuries (and probably millennia); see, for example, Taylor et al. 2016, which I covered in my January blog. And we know that in many of our most fire-adapted plant communities — deciduous oaks, longleaf pine, prairies and rangelands, mixed-conifer forests and even coastal redwoods — anthropogenic fire was and is a critical force of creation and maintenance. Without human-started fires, many of our most beloved and biodiverse habitats wouldn’t even exist." Fire Adapted Communities


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