Burn Permits are issued from October 1st thru April 1st each winter. Weather and snow cover determines if permits are being issued.
- What is the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District?
The Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District was formed by state law in 1941. It was created in part to protect the timber on areas subject to unusual fire dangers. Early in recorded Black Hills history, the first foresters and firefighters came to realize that the ponderosa pine/grassland ecosystem of the Black Hills could burn any time of the year when no significant snow cover was present. And unlike higher elevations forests in the Rocky Mountain West, which hold continuous snow cover in the winter, an open burning season in the lower elevation Black Hills would result in many escaped fires on a yearly basis.
- What area of South Dakota does the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District cover?
The area covered is identified in South Dakota Codified Law SDCL 34-35-15. Generally, this covers the portion that is south and west of Interstate 90 from the Wyoming state line to exit 61, west of Elk Vale Road from exit 61 to its intersection with Highway 79, west of Highway 79/385 from Elk Vale Road to the Cheyenne River, and north of the Cheyenne River from Highway 385 back to the Wyoming state line.
Incorporated towns and municipalities within this area are not part of the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District. These towns would include: Springs, Pringle, Custer, Hermosa, Hill City, Keystone, Summerset, Piedmont, Sturgis, Whitewood, Spearfish, Deadwood, Central City and Lead. If you want to conduct open burning in those towns or cities, you would need to contact the local city officials.
- What is the difference between a small slash pile, a large slash pile and a campfire?
When applying for an online permit, you will be given the choice of a campfire, small slash pile or a large slash pile on the permit menu.
- A campfire is a small fire, with flame lengths of no more than 2 feet, burning in a rock, brick or metal ring, with a three-foot radius of bare dirt soil scraped down to bare mineral soil.
- A small slash pile is a brush pile constructed by hand, usually no larger than 4 to 5 feet in height, and 6 feet in diameter. These “handpiles” are a very common sight to see in the Black Hills and comprise 95% of the temporary burning permits issued.
- A large slash pile is a mechanically constructed pile that is associated with a commercial logging sale or land development activity. These piles can only be lit under certain conditions, given that these piles can loft hot firebrands for a half-mile or more and smolder for weeks after lit. It is important for fire prevention purposes that a piece of heavy machinery, such as bulldozer, skid-steer loader or tractor is a available to work these large piles as they burn down.
- Can I use my campfire permit on US Forest Service Land on the Black Hills National Forest?
No. A temporary campfire permit is only valid for use on private land within the district, with permission of the landowner. Campfires on Black Hills National Forest Service lands in South Dakota are only allowed in established campfire grates at designated picnic or campgrounds. Recreational campfires outside of those areas on the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota need to be permitted by the District Ranger.
- When I issue myself a permit online, do I need to contact 911 or Sheriff’s office?
No. The 911 center dispatchers will be able to view your permit details once you issue yourself a permit.
- What do I need to know before issuing myself a permit online?
You will need to know what county you will be burning in, and the name of the local fire department that serves the area where you will be doing your opening burning.
- Can I still get a permit without applying online?
You can still receive a permit by calling 800.275.4955 during Monday - Friday 8am to 4:30pm. You will be issued a username and password over the phone for you to use the next time you call in. However, with Internet access, you can get a permit anytime that permits are being issued, even during holidays, weekends, and after hours.
- Who can view the information that I’m providing online to get a permit?
Only 911 dispatchers, law enforcement and fire officials will be able to view the on-line information displayed. That information would be the person’s first and last name, date of permit, type of permit, physical location of permitted burn and that person’s username on the system. Information such as phone number, mailing address and e-mail address can only be viewed by the system administrator.
- Can I go on-line to get a permit for a burn barrel or permanent fixed campfire place?
No. These permits require a field inspection. Please contact the Division of Wildland Fire Suppression Field Office staff to obtain those permits.
- Lawrence County: Lead Field Office- 605-584-2300
- Meade & Pennington County: Rapid City Field Office - 605-394-2582
- Custer & Fall River County: Hot Springs Field Office- 605-745-5820
- What are the requirements for an outdoor fire place?
Here is a description of outdoor fire place regulations and a diagram.
- What are the requirements for a burn barrel?
Here is a description of burn barrel regulations and a diagram.
- Can I go on-line to get a permit for a broadcast burn?
No. A broadcast burn is defined as fire that is allowed to burn freely through the grass, underbrush and timber; this is generally known as a “controlled burn.” Broadcast burns require a written burn plan to be on file and approved by the Secretary of Agriculture before conducting such burns on private land in the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District.
- What are the best days to get a slash pile permit?
Look for days that will see a continuous snow cover and cold temperatures that will hold the snow cover, so a pile can burn throughout the day and night. County Conditions will be observed and updated through the weekend to allow users to get permits as conditions change.
- What is a “chinook wind” and why can it be dangerous?
Chinook winds are warm down-slope winds that occur anytime of the year, but especially in the winter. They occur on the lee or east side of the Black Hills and Rocky Mountains. They will be so warm as to melt snow in the middle of the night, and bring what once was thought as a cold slash pile, back to life, fanning it into a forest fire. Make sure your fire is out!