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Wind Cave National Park

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This was the second year of our study designed to evaluate the nature of vegetation occurring under Pinus ponderosa canopy in Wind Cave National Park and to define the relationship between this vegetation and fire. Fire is known to be a natural phenomenon in ponderosa pine forests (Wright 1978), and to play a major role in determining the position of the pine-grassland ecotone in the Black Hills (Gartner and Thompson 1973). Wind Cave personnel are developing a fire management plan allowing for prescribed burning, in hopes of bringing the park ecosystems back under a "natural" fire regime. Results of our study will help park management predict the effects of such prescribed burning on the ponderosa pine community.