Black Hills National Forest

Pine trees in the Black Hills National Forest. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

New supervisor hired for Black Hills National Forest

BY: - November 15, 2023

The Black Hills National Forest will soon have a new supervisor, its sixth different leader this year and 11th in the past seven years. The new supervisor, who’s been hired to take the job on a permanent basis, is Shawn Cochran. He’ll start Jan. 14 after departing his job as supervisor of the Monongahela National […]

The California fivespined ips. (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)

State monitoring timber transport project to keep unwanted bugs out of Black Hills

BY: - October 30, 2023

A South Dakota forest expert is leading an effort to ensure invasive tree bugs are not hitching rides on trains from other parts of the country to the Black Hills.  The trains are transporting logs from forests in other states to Black Hills sawmills in need of timber. It’s a pilot project operated by the […]

Utility task vehicles, better known as UTVs or side-by-sides, in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

Forest Service floats fee increase as latest response to Black Hills UTV surge

BY: - October 29, 2023

There was a time years ago when Travis Bies didn’t worry as much about cattle escaping his Black Hills pastures. “Every Monday, you had to be there and check your gates to make sure they were closed,” Bies said. “Now, I’ve had to hire a full-time person to be there every day.” That’s because so […]

Jonathan Bartley and Adrian Lacasse of Durangoats LLC. (Courtesy of Dave Marston)

Goats can be a flammable forest’s best friend

BY: - October 9, 2023

Goats are particularly good at one thing: Eating. Unlike a horse or cow that leaves noxious weeds behind, goats eat the whole menu of pesky weeds, bushes and small trees. That means goats can be one of the answers to the growing problem of tinder-dry, highly flammable forests. In Durango, Colorado, former firefighter Jonathan Bartley […]

Ruth Esperance, left, and her attorney, Daniel Gebhardt, in front of the federal courthouse in Rapid City. (Courtesy of Daniel Gebhardt/Solomon Law Firm)

Jury awards $400,000 in Black Hills National Forest gender discrimination case

BY: - September 25, 2023

A jury awarded $400,000 in damages Saturday to a former Black Hills National Forest district ranger in her discrimination case against the federal government. The verdict came after a week-long trial in federal court at Rapid City. The jury found in favor of Ruth Esperance’s claim that she suffered gender discrimination. The jury also found […]

The Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board, comprised of 16 representatives from an array of interest groups, meets in October 2022 at the forest's Mystic Ranger District office in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

New approach needed as Forest Service fumbles on Black Hills leadership

BY: - September 18, 2023

When I reported back in May that the Black Hills National Forest was on its eighth supervisor in seven years, I made it sound like that was a lot of turnover. Since then, there have been two more supervisors. That brings the tally to 10 in the past seven years, and five this year alone. […]

A human-made beaver dam in the Black Hills National Forest, which the Forest Service calls a “beaver dam analog.” (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)

Leave it to beavers to help restore streams in the Black Hills

BY: - June 11, 2023

Beavers may not realize it, but they’re at the heart of a project in the Black Hills National Forest to restore areas adjacent to creeks.  These spaces, called riparian zones, are crucial in maintaining water quality, preventing erosion, regulating water flow and providing habitat for aquatic and land animals.  Black Hills National Forest officials say […]

Ponderosa pine timber from the Klamath National Forest in California arrives at a sawmill in Hulett, Wyoming. (Courtesy of Dan Stone)

Pilot program brings California wildfire logs to Black Hills sawmill

BY: - June 3, 2023

Trains are bringing timber from wildfire-ravaged California to a sawmill in the Black Hills that needs the extra work, as part of a pilot program that could expand nationwide. After a wildfire, some of the burned trees are removed to prevent them from falling on people and to reduce fuel for another fire. Burned trees […]

The Palmer Gulch Fire burns in October 2022 in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

How climate change threatens South Dakota’s protected landscapes

BY: - May 30, 2023

Swaths of South Dakota water, grasslands and forests are under federal protection, but climate change recognizes no boundaries.  Scientists say South Dakota’s protected lands are vulnerable to pest infestation, wildfire, drought, flooding and more extreme weather in the decades to come. That ranges from a wild stretch of the Missouri River to grasslands in central […]

A view of the Black Hills from Black Elk Peak. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Eight supervisors, seven years: The ‘challenging’ Black Hills National Forest

BY: - May 25, 2023

The Black Hills National Forest has its eighth supervisor in the past seven years, and if recent history is any indication, he probably doesn’t fully recognize what he’s up against. Carl Petrick, most recently the supervisor of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, won’t stay long in his new Black Hills post. He’s an acting supervisor, […]

The Palmer Gulch Fire burns in October 2022 in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

On wildfire funding, the Forest Service is like the dog that caught the car

BY: - April 29, 2023

Watching congressional hearings is a really interesting way to find things out that you may otherwise never hear about. Over the past couple of months, there have been Senate hearings for the farm bill with the U.S. Forest Service’s Associate Chief Angela Coleman, and Senate Appropriations hearings with Chief Randy Moore. Particularly interesting was the […]

A 2015 view of the Pactola Reservoir in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

Public tells Forest Service to expand proposed mining ban in portion of Black Hills

BY: - April 26, 2023

RAPID CITY – Dozens of people told federal officials Wednesday that they not only support a proposed ban on new mining-related activity in a portion of the Black Hills, but also want the ban expanded. The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management hosted a four-hour public input meeting at the Rapid City […]