With rising popularity, officials remind visitors to Jenney Gulch to be mindful of their impact on the area
PACTOLA RESERVOIR, S.D. – For first responders heading to a call near the Jenney Gulch Picnic Area, the number of cars parked on the road can make a crucial difference.
In 2019, The Black Hills National Forest carried out a month-long survey that saw over 1,000 vehicles in total visit the area. And if each vehicle has a family of three, four, or even five on average Forestry Technician Halley Legge says, the number of people can skyrocket. And since COVID, as that number continues to climb, so have the number of cars parked along the road in places they should not be.
To help prevent people from parking on the shoulder and creating obstacles, Legge was out moving rocks onto the shoulder as part of a barrier.
“We have had incidents where we have been unable to get emergency services in here,” she explained. “And sometimes if we are able to get them in, we can get them so far, load up the patient, and then they have to back out because there is no way to turn around. And so we are trying to alleviate some of the parking issues and traffic issues that we have been seeing here with the increased traffic.”
Of course, increased traffic to Jenney Gulch also results in the creation of lots of trash. The Forest Service is urging people to clean up after themselves for the safety of both people and animals in the area. Only two trash cans are available on-location and can fill up fast.
“Due to limited staffing, we are down here twice a week already and I can only get here twice a week with my crew picking up trash,” Legge said. “So what we ask the public is if they are able, whatever they do pack in they pack it out as well.”
For the month of July so far, around 20 large bags full of trash have been picked up, even with limited staff on-hand to care for the area. And as for the parking new space was designated for vehicles during Wednesday’s operation, but Forest Service officials are working on coming up with an accurate maximum for the number of available spaces.