Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Rancher: RMEF Prescribed Burn Saved My Home

Forest health, elk and other wildlife aren’t the only benefactors of prescribed burns. Just ask Phil Lampert.

Gusty winds recently pushed the 1,896-acre Cold Fire through the pine-laced forests of western South Dakota near Custer. Lampert saw the smoke and flames and watched from his home as firefighters halted its advance on his property. He credits a 2014 habitat stewardship project, funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, for saving his ranch.

“Because of that, a lot of that fuel that was eliminated in that (2014 prescribed burn) fire was no longer there to help fuel this fire,” Lampert told Keloland television.

“The effect of the fire moving from the untreated into the treated area was very dramatic and really showed the effectiveness of prescribed fire. The fire flame length, because of reduction in fuels, really dropped down,” said Jerry Krueger, Black Hills National Forest deputy supervisor.

The 2014 prescribed burn covered 1,938 acres in a section of forestland that had not seen significant fire in decades. Treatment objectives included using fire to enhance wildlife habitat by improving forage, rejuvenating hardwoods and shrubs, maintaining meadows and reducing hazardous dead and down woody fuels to protect cover for game animals and birds.

RMEF contributed nearly $41,000 to help cover the costs of aerial ignition and engines.

The project was several years in the making and marked the first interagency prescribed burn in the Black Hills involving federal, state and private lands. More specifically, partners included RMEF, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Black Hills National Forest with assistance from the South Dakota Division of Wildland Suppression, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' Wildlife Division, Rapid City Fire Department, Custer Volunteer Fire Department and a landowner by the name of Phil Lampert, who also employed some personal thinning practices.

And for having the foresight to improve the conservation values of his land by allowing habitat stewardship work on his land, Lampert is forever grateful.

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