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Mtn. Plains 1 & 2

Mountain PlainsThe community of Spearfish is tucked picturesquely on the northern edge of the Black Hills of South Dakota at the entrance to scenic Spearfish Canyon. On its southern border, perched above the town and canyon, lie the Mountain Plains 1 and Mountain Plains 2 developments--adjacent subdivisions that share common fire mitigation issues. Both developments, high on a forested ridge between Spearfish Canyon and Fish Hatchery Gulch, enjoy spectacular views of Spearfish and the surrounding heavily timbered mountains. The Black Hills National Forest stretches away to the northeast and the century-old D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery lies to the north. Bobcats, cougars, mountain goats, raccoons, coyotes, porcupines, beavers, whitetail deer, and wild turkeys all share the area with their human neighbors.

Mountain PlainsAbout forty homes comprise Mountain Plains 1, and 78 more lie in Mountain Plains 2, which has another 44 lots which will be built on eventually. Mountain Plains 1 is legally organized as a Road District, while Mountain Plains 2 is incorporated as a Homeowners Association. Residents of Mountain Plains 1 obtain water from individual wells, while those in Mountain Plains 2 have a community water system fed by three deep wells. The Spearfish Volunteer Fire Department, with approximately fifty members, is the area's first responder for fire protection. The surrounding communities of Sturgis, Whitewood, Deadwood, Lead, and St. Onge, all with volunteer fire departments themselves, provide mutual aid. Both state and federal agencies respond when fire enters land within their jurisdictions. Vegetation within Mountain Plains 1 and 2 is primarily Burr oak and pine with intrusive patches of brushy Eastern ironwood.

Since its inception in 2002, the Firewise Board members in Mountain Plains 1 and 2 have focused their plan on three major targets: survivable space, fuel breaks to be constructed adjacent to the developments, and ingress/egress issues.

Mountain PlainsSurvivable Space - Through cooperative efforts of the state and national land managers, the homeowners have been offered a free survivable space property assessment. Homeowners that choose to implement the assessment recommendations are being given the opportunity to be grouped together into one bid package that will be provided to contractors who specialize in fuel reduction project work. Residents in Mountain Plains 2 have also been given financial incentives from the Homeowners Association to have brush removed from their lots through a partial credit toward their annual assessments, and the Association's bi-monthly newsletter has featured numerous articles on Firewise landscaping for survivable space.

Mountain PlainsFuel Breaks - Portions of Spearfish Canyon, Fish Hatchery Gulch and undeveloped, wooded land owned by Barrick Gold Corporation form several borders around Mountain Plains 1 and 2. The Firewise Board is working cooperatively with the Black Hills National Forest, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Lawrence County Fire Protection Board and Barrick Gold Corporation to maximize fuel reduction efforts on these lands and reduce the wildfire threat to the community.

Ingress/Egress - Members of the Firewise Board have explored evacuation options for Mountain Plains 1 and 2 that will supplement the existing single entrance /exit. The steep, cliff-punctuated terrain dropping into Spearfish Canyon and Fish Hatchery Gulch limits road development. An unimproved Forest Service road connecting to the Aspen Hills subdivision about a mile away is passable to high-clearance vehicles and provides potential egress to the south (opposite the usual entrance to the north) but traverses thickly wooded, fire-prone terrain itself.

Mountain Plains 2 offers its residents a Web site at http://wfuller44.googlepages.com/home.