Black Hills National Forest begins process of revising Forest Plan
CUSTER, S.D. — Black Hills National Forest officials have begun the process of revising the Forest Plan, which guides resource management.
The last amendment was in 2006, and these plans are usually revisited every 15 years. Now, officials look to the community to participate in the construction of a new plan that maximizes both the enjoyment and protection of the forest.
The Black Hills National Forest has been shaped by many forces, both natural and artificial, and officials are looking to find new ways to better support the pristine landscape. Just after the last update was introduced in 2006, the Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic ravaged forest vegetation for over 10 years.
Jeff Tomac, Forest Supervisor of Black Hills National Forrest, discussed the impact this event had on the ecosystem.
“Timber sustainability on the Black Hills National Forest will be one of the assessments that we will be working through and a lot of interest top many people in and around the Black Hills,” he said.
Other components to the assessment range from soil, air, and water quality to livestock grazing and areas of importance to tribes. Fire has also played an integral role in the evolution of the Black Hills National Forest.
“That ecological piece of how can and should we restore prescribed fire to mimic historic activities in the past to reduce the threat of serious wildfire on the Black Hills will be one of the things that our folks and staff sill be looking at,” Tomac explains.
Recreational use of the forest has also soared since the last plan.
“It’s a matter of working with our communities in the Black Hills to provide those opportunities for the recreationists that are coming from outside of the area,” says Tomac.
Public meetings will be held throughout the process to help maximize involvement. This emphasis on collaboration between forest officials, residents, and tribal communities offers a chance for compromises that will suit everyone, so that both recreation and appreciation can flourish.
For more information on the plan and how to get involved, click here.