Page 16, August 2017 H By Parker Knox ardly anybody intends to set into motion the forces that can destroy homes, lives and thou- sands of acres of forest. But the painful truth, ac- cording to the U.S. Forest Service, is that nine out of 10 wildfires are started—accidentally, perhaps, but nevertheless carelessly—by people like you and me. In an average year that means 106,400 wildfires started and 4,083,347 acres consumed. As motorcyclists by the thousands roll into the Black Hills in the next two weeks, they will pass the Smokey Bear fire preven- tion signs. The danger level will vary from “Moderate” or “High” to “Very High” or “Extreme,” despite how green everything looks. If Frank Carroll of Professional Forest Management, LLC, has any message for the incoming visitors, it is this: “Don’t be fooled by any green.” The Black Hills has not been hit by a larger fire this summer, but smaller fires, along with a rash of other fires in the area over the years shows just how dry and ready for fire the Black Hills can be. In addition, the recent mountain pine beetle infestation has ex- acerbated the fire danger in the Black Hills by killing many stand- ing pines. Any break in the moisture during the spring and summer can push the area into drought-like conditions and can force fire dan- ger into the “Extreme” category. Asked if plain old common sense will get the region through the rest of the fire season safely, Car- Fire/Page 17 Black Hills Cruisin’ Don’t upset Smokey! The fire danger is high and nearing the very high to extreme mark in the Hills. The fire danger is subject to change quickly.