Forest Service seeks input on tree salvage project in the southern Hills
CUSTER, S.D. — The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a project to salvage damaged trees in the southern Black Hills.
Three areas of trees that were affected by the May 2021 tornadoes near Custer are damaged, setting the stage for potential insect infestations. The area totals approximately 1,508 acres within the Hell Canyon Ranger District, and includes mostly Ponderosa Pine trees.
The proposal includes removing downed trees, as well as standing trees damaged in the storm, cutting them into lengths, and hauling them offsite. This would include trees with broken tops and ones that lean. The slash would be lopped and scattered, while in areas where damage was concentrated, piling slash away from private land may be used.
No new system road construction will be necessary to access the areas, and minimal maintenance will be needed according to the USFS.
The Forest Service anticipates this would be done by two commercial timber sales.
They say that because insects – like the Ips Engraver Beetle – target damaged or stressed trees, tree removal needs to happen fast. Removal would also reduce wildfire risk in the area.