Jewel Cave prescribed fire planned

CUSTER, S.D. (KEVN TV) - The National Park Service plans to conduct a 309-acre prescribed fire at Jewel Cave National Monument

The prescribed burn will be on the south side of Highway 16, along the entry road to the monument’s visitor center. The prescribed area also includes forested land near the administration building, maintenance shop, park housing, and one-quarter-mile Roof Trail.

The burn window for this project is scheduled to open the week of Oct. 16. The prescribed burn will only occur if weather and moisture conditions on the ground fall within a predetermined set of parameters.

According to a Park Service release, there are two main objectives for the Hill Top Prescribed Fire. The first is to reduce the amount of dead and downed wood on the ground, recycling the nutrients back into the forest ecosystem. The second objective is to reduce exotic plants above and beyond the routine treatments conducted by Monument staff during the summer seasons.

During the prescribed burn, the Roof Trail will be closed, along with a portion of the Canyons Trail. Signage will be displayed at key locations to alert visitors of the closure. The visitor center will remain open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; however, traffic entering and departing the Monument may experience delays due to the fire activity and an increased number of staff along the roadways.