Remember the 19 who perished
Published: Thursday, July 18th, 2013
When Melody Kramer called me earlier this past week I was cutting down hundreds of small pine trees arrayed across the slopes of the hillside near Hill City. The ground was steep. I had to kneel and swing the saw side to side, cutting the saplings so they would fall away from me. My crew and I then hand pile the little trees for burning in the winter and to create green chain traps for Ips pine engraver beetles—big deep piles of lush, green, small diameter pine trees, perfect habitat for the tiny beetles. The theory is the beetles like it so much they stay there through their three annual flights and remain there when we go to burn the piles starting at Thanksgiving.
I explained to the landowner how the trees would be a liability in fire season when firefighters, often hotshot crews like our own Tatanka Hotshots, would walk along the edge of the highway lighting the grass on fire to stop a bigger fire from hitting the highway, to allow people to evacuate, to help firefighters anchor fire lines and to stop the fire that will surely burn across the slopes where we were working.
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