Black Hills – Join the Black Hills National Forest at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 26, for a moonlit hike and to learn about the history of fire in the Black Hills and the importance of fire in a ponderosa pine ecosystem.

Participants in the scheduled Moon Walk event will walk approximately 1 mile roundtrip over uneven terrain in the central Black Hills in a recent prescribed fire area.

A variety of biologists and specialists employed on the Mystic Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest will discuss how their resource is represented in the planning process prior to a prescribed burn. “A wildlife biologist, botanist and assistant fire management officer will discuss how bringing fire into this ponderosa pine ecosystem can be used as a tool to manage their particular resource area,” said Stephen Keegan, Moon Walk Coordinator.

Speaker Chris Stover, Assistant Fire Management Officer on the Mystic Ranger District, will also discuss the history of fire in the Black Hills. “Fire plays a critical role in the health of the ponderosa pine ecosystem. Prescribed fire allows for the re-introduction of fire under chosen environmental conditions,” said Stover. “Prescribed fire can benefit soil, plants, water quality, wildlife habitat, and at the same time create a safer environment for firefighters working to control wildfires in the heat of the summer.”

To reach the Moon Walk, travel west from Rockerville on US Highway 16 intersection for approximately 2.5 miles to Silver Mountain Road. Turn north (right) on Silver Mountain Road and travel approximately .1 miles to Boulder Hill Road. Turn north (left) onto Boulder Hill Road and travel approximately 1.3 miles to the parking area. Signs will be posted at major intersections to guide visitors to the parking area once you leave Highway 16. Participants should arrive early to facilitate parking.

Visitors should bring flashlights, water, and bug repellant and dress for unexpected weather and hiking on uneven terrain. Long pants and sturdy footwear (hiking boots or athletic shoes) are recommended for your comfort and safety.

The program may be canceled unexpectedly for unforeseen reasons such as lightning, high fire danger forecasts and other reasons beyond control. The program will not be canceled due to rain unless lightning is spotted.

For more information about the program and summer schedule go to www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills or call the Black Hills National Forest at (605) 343-1567.

May is Wildland Fire Awareness Month. To learn more about this and to see other events, please visit: www.sdwildfireawareness.com.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills.