Board Urges New Black Hills Forest Master Plan

Sep 16, 2020

Canyon terrain in the Black Hills National Forest.
Credit Seth Tupper / SDPB

A citizen panel wants Black Hills National Forest officials to write a new master plan.

The Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board unanimously approved the recommendation Wednesday. Drafting a new forest plan would require several years of research and public engagement.

Board member Greg Josten, who serves as South Dakota's state forester, hopes the Forest Service’s national office will ease the financial burden.

“All those things cost money, and if the forest has to absorb the cost within their normal operating budget, then it could have a negative impact on the other things that they do," Josten said during Wednesday's virtual meeting. "So the thought there is if you’re going to ask for approval to revise the forest plan, ask for some more money to get it done.”

Federal law requires national forests to revise their management plans every 15 years. It’s been that long since the Black Hills National Forest amended its plan.

Meanwhile, wildfires and mountain pine beetles have drastically altered forest conditions.

The current plan is almost 500 pages. It sets goals, objectives and standards for everything from logging and mining to cattle-grazing and recreation.

-Seth Tupper is SDPB's business and economic development reporter.