Botanist Work to Protect Sensitive Plant Habitats

Release Date: Jul 10, 2012  

Contact(s): Jill Welborn, (605) 642-4622


Spearfish, SD - Botanists are working across the Black Hills National Forest everyday to protect sensitive plant habitats.

Recently Northern Hills botanists and timber managers teamed up to determine a boundary for a newly identified pocket of trees infested with mountain pine beetle inside of the Beartown timber sale area. The newly infested trees were determined suitable for timber harvest to help reduce the beetle population in the area.
Before the trees can be removed, botanists and timber sale administration specialists needed to survey and walk through the area, looking at riparian buffers, sensitive plant habitat, timber harvest feasibility, transportation and other resources.

“We are working to identify any resource concerns on the ground,” Jill Welborn, Northern Hills Botanist said. “Specifically for botany, we were looking for sensitive plant habitat, which is generally characterized by areas of higher moisture, riparian areas, hardwood inclusions, and steeper slopes.”

The areas of concern found by the botanists were typically removed from the infested pockets of pine, so buffer zones and habitat protection areas could be defined while allowing the sanitation harvest operation to go forward. “The bug-hit pine areas were on ridge-top and rolling slopes,” Welborn said “and the plant habitat was down along the stream and below the slope break where equipment cannot operate.”

Welborn said resource protection measures are put into place in areas that are determined to be sensitive such as keeping equipment out of the areas to protect rare and sensitive plant habitats.

Before any major project occurs on the Black Hills National Forest, resource specialists work together to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions and determine the best course of action. This cooperative approach has allowed thousands of acres of forest to be treated to reduce the risk of mountain pine beetle and severe wildfire, while protecting not only plant habitats, but wildlife, water, and other resources.

“We are working to protect sensitive areas for future generations,” Welborn said.