Thune: Park service should accept full liability for fire
April 17, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C.— In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Department of Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called on the National Park Service (NPS) to change its prescribed burn policies. Thune also called on the NPS to accept full liability for damages and expenses to individuals and local and state government entities and provide a timeline and process for reimbursement for the April 13 Cold Brook Fire that burned more than 6,500 acres in Wind Cave National Park.
"It's been just over two years since landowners and ranchers suffered losses due to the Pautre Fire in northwest South Dakota resulting from an irresponsible prescribed burn set by yet another federal agency when extremely dry conditions and high fire danger were present," said Thune. "The Cold Brook Fire started by the NPS is just another example of a federal agency taking questionable action without first collaborating with adjacent landowners and local and state officials. The NPS needs to accept responsibility for this fire, assume liability for damages and expenses, and change its burn policies. I am going to continue to hold the NPS accountable and look forward to seeing the agency's response to my requested prescribed burn policy modifications and timeline for reimbursement."
On April 13, 2015, the NPS conducted a prescribed burn in the southern portion of Wind Cave National Park, located in the Black Hills. The prescribed burn was intended to cover 1,100 acres; however, due to the extreme dry conditions present at the prescribed burn site, the Cold Brook Fire quickly escalated out of control consuming more than 6,500 acres of Wind Cave National Park.