Stakeholders in Black Hills Forest seek to be more sustainable in forest management

CUSTER, S.D. – The fate of the Black Hills National Forest hangs in the balance.

Recent data in the form of the General Technical Report, released from U.S.D.A. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, suggests current forest management practices are not sustainable.

Stakeholders in the forest are currently discussing steps to protect the timber industry and preserve the forest.

“There are four factors that we are all looking at; how much forest is out there, how much standing inventory is there, how much is there growing , adding new wood and how much is dying,” said Forest Supervisor, Jerry Krueger. 

The report suggests the current system will only be sustainable for another 30 years.

Pre-commercial thinning of the forest will allow trees to grow stronger, but it might not be enough.

“There’s some numbers in there that can be very scary,” said Robert Burns, President of Norbeck Society. “If harvesting continues at its current rate and mortality is at its average for the last 100 years, we will not have a tree over eight inches to harvest and suitable lands for forest in the next 30 years, very scary. I think we will have to cut timber harvest no matter what we do. If we keep on at this rate the forest cannot keep up.”

The GTR is based off years of research into the Black Hills. There is conjecture over the accuracy of the report. But decisions on how to proceed with timber harvest will be made with the help of stakeholders and based off the final report.

“It’s not just a good idea to be sustainable it’s actually grounded in law,” said Krueger. “So there are laws that require us to manage this public land in a sustainable manner.”

Another stakeholders meeting will be virtually broadcasted on May 28th.

The General Technical Report can be found on the U.S.D.A. website, here.


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