Public Comments Requested For Salvage Timber Sale In Black Hills National Forest

Photo Courtesy: Forest Service

The Hell Canyon Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest is requesting public input on a proposed project to salvage trees affected by a tornado that occurred east and south of Custer, S.D. on May 23rd.

Three areas of concentrated blowdown have been identified which total approximately 1508 acres within a larger project area. The affected area is predominantly Ponderosa Pine trees with small areas of grass and aspen sites.

The large number of damaged trees sets the stage for an insect infestation to occur and affect other trees and adjacent stands of trees. The Ips Engraver Beetle is known to infest pine and spruce trees targeting root injuries or stressed trees, allowing them to build up their populations. The areas of blowdown are also located next to private land.

The proposed activity includes removing the downed trees, as well as standing trees that were damaged in the storm, cutting into log lengths, and hauling those logs off site. This includes broken tops or leaning trees. The resulting slash would be lopped and scattered across most of the areas. However, in the areas where the damage was concentrated, the option of piling slash away from private property and other improvements may be used. It is anticipated that this activity would be accomplished as two commercial timber sales.

The three cut areas will be accessed using existing system and non-system roads with minimal maintenance needed. No new system road construction will occur. Up to one mile of temporary construction may be needed and would be decommissioned after use.

Tree removal needs to occur quickly to capture the value of the wood prior to an insect infestation. A timely response will also reduce the risk of wildfire in this area by reducing the fuel load. Implementation could begin after a decision memo is signed, which is anticipated in late June 2021.

Projects of this nature require the issuance of a decision memo but are not subject to objection. While a decision made on this project will be final, all public comments on the proposed action will be considered.

Comments are requested by June 24, 2021. Comments may be submitted via email at

Please use “Flying Monkeys Salvage Project” in the subject line.