Fire hazard mitigation program available for landowners

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Farm Forum

RAPID CITY – South Dakota Wildland Fire (SDWF) has funding available through the 50-Percent Cost Share Fire Hazard and Fuels Reduction Program for eligible homeowners to lower the risk of catastrophic fire.

This program is intended to create or enhance survivable space around homes. It also provides an area within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) where, in the event of a fire, the rate and intensity of fire spread can be reduced.

Black Hills landowners interested in the thinning of dense stands of trees, removal of volatile fuels on their property and improving forest health are eligible for funding.

SDWF is unable to cost share projects consisting of select tree removal due to various forms of tree mortality (i.e. bug tree removal) or cleanup of slash piles, chip piles or cut and chunk material that has been left because of previous treatments. Treatments larger than 6.5 acres are typically not eligible under this program, unless specifically targeted as a necessary mitigation effort for a high-risk interface area.

Treatment will promote forest health by mimicking the effects that fire would have on the landscape by removing unhealthy trees and creating improved conditions for remaining trees, shrubs and forbs. Mitigation will target and remove deformed, diseased, storm damaged, broken topped coniferous (pine, cedar, spruce) trees while encouraging deciduous (trees that produce leaves) vegetation growth. Remaining conifers will be removed until an average spacing of 30 feet between the crowns is achieved and limbed at least 10 feet from the ground to eliminate ladder fuels. This will result in a variety of stronger trees that will reduce competition for nourishment and create a healthier forest.

“Our main goal is to create survivable space around the home and prevent fire from getting into the tops of trees and becoming uncontrollable,” says Andrew Tate, urban interface specialist with SDWF.

For more information on mitigating fire threats around your home, visit www.gpfiresafecouncil.com.

If you would like an assessment of your property, have questions, or would like information presented to your neighborhood or homeowner’s association, please contact Cassie Christy, urban interface technician with SDWF at 605.394.5203.