Sunday, April 19, 2015

Devils Tower plans fuel treatment; Badlands land swap slated

Update, 20 April, 0515 MDT: Park Service calls off prescribed burn at Devils Tower. "Decision comes after Wind Cave prescribed burn gets away from park service."


Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell is passionate about protecting and preserving public lands. She has directed the US Park Service to continue its multi-pronged attack on cheatgrass.
Fire management officials from the Northern Great Plains Fire Office and Devils Tower National Monument plan to burn 85 acres near the entrance of the Monument and east of the Belle Fourche River. The burn is needed to remove build-up of dead fuels and woody herbaceous growth and encourage the growth of native prairie grasses and forbs and lessen the chances of possible wildland fires. Prescribed burns return a key natural process to the landscape, improve the health of the ecosystem under controlled conditions, and lessen the chance of wildland fires. Prescribed burns are carefully planned, conducted within an approved boundary and ignited only under specific weather conditions such as humidity, fuel moisture, wind speed and direction and short and long range weather forecasts. If conditions are not acceptable on the scheduled day of the burn, it will be postponed until desirable conditions return. [Sundance Times]
Of course fire managers would rather burn under April conditions than in July or August.

On Thursday ahead of forecast snow and rain land managers should have put the drip torch to every parcel of public ground in a triangle with points at Wright, Wyoming; Bismarck, North Dakota and Brush, Colorado.

Conata Basin and Badlands National Park are part of a land swap with The Nature Conservancy.
Big chunks of scenic badlands and grasslands would change ownership under a swap that seems headed toward approval over the objections of some ranchers in southwest South Dakota. The deal, known as the Cain Creek Land Exchange, is described by the parties doing the swapping as an attempt to straighten out some of the checkerboard pattern of public-private land ownership in the area. Some ranchers don't see the swap as so benign. Rather, they worry that the deal will put them closer to pesky prairie dogs and will subtract property-tax revenues from local governments. [Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]
The Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska put the Badlands at the top of her 2012 ten regional ecotourism favorites. The Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge is, of course, on the list as are other Montana treasures.

#1 is:
Badlands National Park (S.D.) -- The park has 244,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie. It is home to bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, black-footed ferrets and other wildlife. The South Unit of the park is in the process of becoming the first tribal national park, with its world-class natural and cultural resources to be managed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Conata Basin (S.D.) -- The basin refers both to a larger ecoregion consisting of some 142,000 acres just south of Badlands National Park and to a smaller tract of 6,188 acres (plus 25,188 acres of federal grazing allotments) owned by the Nature Conservancy. This largely intact prairie, which provides a home to the full array of prairie wildlife, is the site of a critical and controversial effort to reintroduce nearly extinct black-footed ferrets, which require prairie dogs as food source.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Devils Tower in Big Wonderful also made the cut.

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