Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Legion Lake Fire represents strategic failures

When the Custer Expedition came through the Black Hills bringing invasive cheatgrass for their horses stands of ponderosa pine were sparse and scattered but a century and a half of poor management practices have created an unnatural overstory best controlled by the mountain pine beetle, prescribed fires and periodic wildfires.

The human-caused Legion Lake Fire represents strategic failures by Black Hills Energy, the State of South Dakota, South Dakota Game, Fish and Plunder and the South Dakota Republican Party. 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.

The fire evacuation area has been extended from Custer State Park in the west to Highway 79 in the east and from LH Road south to Buffalo Gap including the towns of Fairburn and Buffalo Gap east of Highway 79.

The blaze has grown to at least 35,000 acres and the grassland fire danger index will reach the very high category in parts of western South Dakota this afternoon.

Just as the State of South Dakota sued Black Hills Power and Light after the Grizzly Gulch Fire Black Hills Energy should sue the shit out of South Dakota for the Legion Lake Fire.

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