The Vestal project is an ongoing effort to thin out the Ponderosa Pine tree population surrounding Custer. The project is meant to rid the forests of pine beetles and stop large scale wild fires. Matt Spring is the prescribed fire and fuels management specialist with the Black Hills National Forest. He says the project is nearing an end, but recent weather is causing delays.
“We limit the contractors in the woods due to the wet condition(s). We don’t want to create ruts or damage the resource while we’re in here. Our requirement is dry or frozen ground when we’re implementing these projects, whether it’s our crews or contractors that we work with,” says Spring.
Spring hopes the forest will dry quickly so contractors can resume work in June. The Vestal project is expected to be finished in 2018.