Prescribed Fire

pile burning


Every fall, Black Hills National Forest fire managers begin to look at weather and fuel conditions for prescribed burning.

For current prescribed fire information, sign-up and follow by e-mail, twitter or RSS/Atom feed at

District Prescribed Burn Plans

Prescribed fires are only lit after they meet certain weather conditions, wind speeds, and numbers of firefighters needed for control. Firefighters burn to reduce the severity and intensity of wildfires by reducing fuels that feed summer wildfires. Burning improves overall forest health by recycling carbon and nutrients into the soil and controlling forest insects. It also increases forage for wildlife, like grass and bushes, and improves conditions for better wildlife habitat.

Every effort is made to minimize smoke impacts, but smoke columns may be visible especially in the early morning and late afternoon.

The smoke is temporary and it does not exceed air quality limits set by the State of South Dakota and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Burn Bosses communicate with the National Weather Service throughout the ignition period to monitor changing conditions. Firing stops as soon as possible if there are indications the smoke dispersal forecast is poor.

Burn bosses and fire managers are highly trained and very experienced and form the core of wildfire fighters in summer months.


Pile Burning

Districts across the Black Hills National Forest burn thousands of hand and machine slash piles every year. Piles are created from timber sale slash and tree thinning operations.

It is important to reduce fire and insect hazards by reducing fuel buildup which makes fire suppression operations safer during the summer months. 

Smoke may be visible and impact local communities across the Black Hills during the fall, winter and spring as conditions permit. Smoldering material may continue to burn days after burning operations are completed. Firefighters continually monitor and check the piles for several days after they have been lit.

For more pile burning information and notifications, follow the Black Hills National Forest on the Great Plains Fire Information page:, Facebook: and/or Twitter:


Prescribed Fire Highlight Photos

anti-horse rx Corral Rx edelweiss long draw rx rifle pit rx

Anti-Horse Rx

Corral Rx

Edelweiss Rx

Long Draw Rx

Rifle Pit Rx

silver mountain rx sleez rx whaley rx work center rx  

Silver Mountain Rx

Sleez Rx

Whaley Rx

Work Center Rx



Note: Private Burn Permits are issued by the State of South Dakota.

To aquire a burn permit, please visit the South Dakota Department of Agriculture webpage at