Share story

CUSTER, S.D. (AP) — Crews are working through cold temperatures to rebuild fences to contain Custer State Park’s iconic buffalo after a historic wildfire burned more than half the park.

The fire that started from a downed power line on Dec. 11 burned 16 miles of fence throughout the western South Dakota park. Repair work started before the blaze was out, the Rapid City Journal reported .

Fences deter buffalo from roaming onto private land and Forest Service property. Crews first repaired some fences inside the park, which allowed it to hold buffalo that winter there. Mark Hendrix, the park’s resource program manager, estimated about 860 buffalo are there.

“We had to get one area to keep them inside so we could feed them,” he said.

Crews are taking out burned wooden posts, replacing them with galvanized metal posts and attaching panels of woven wire.

“People use (this kind of fencing) for cattle. It works for the bison as well,” Hendrix said. “We’re not buying material specific for wildlife.”

Winter weather has added frozen ground, snow and slick areas to existing challenges that include rocky ground.

“It’s hard to get around,” Hendrix said.

Fully repairing and rebuilding the park’s fences will take about two years, according to Hendrix. He did not have a cost estimate.

“We’re not going to get it all fixed in one year. We’ll get the boundary, but it’s going to take a while to get to some of those interior fences,” Hendrix said. “We just don’t have enough money to get everything we need or hire everybody to just do it all.”

___

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com