Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Noem calls for Black Hills Forest Plan redo

A logging machine in the Black Hills.
Black Hills National Forest
A logging machine in the Black Hills.

Gov. Kristi Noem is joining Wyoming’s governor in calling for the Black Hills National Forest to redo a draft of its upcoming forest plan revision.

Current draft assessments call for reductions in timber sales.

Timber industry advocates said the proposed reductions in timber sales would prove disastrous for the industry.

Mills in the Black Hills have already started closing. Timber sales are down 20 percent from last year.

“We are concerned about the apparent desire of the Forest Service to drastically reduce the timber program in the Black Hills National Forest,” said Noem in a press release.

She points to what she calls “flawed statements 'not backed by scientific material'” in the Black Hills National Forest revision assessment.

The governor’s office did not respond to requests for what those flawed statements are. The forest service also did not return requests for comment.

Current timber sale levels were set during the late 90s. A mountain pine beetle epidemic and three of the largest fires in Black Hills’ recorded history have occurred since then, taking with it suitable sawtimber. One report suggests inventory needs to double to maintain current harvest levels.

Part of the forest revision may lean on a General Technical Report on timber harvest released in 2021. The governor’s office says that report contains errors. The report concludes current standing live sawtimber does not support current harvest levels identified in the forest plan.

An independent review recommended several corrections to the report. However, it found no compelling evidence to support requests to withdraw the report.

The Forest Service is currently revising its forest plan. Once finalized, the plan will guide forest management for the next fifteen years.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Related Content