Timber Sustainability on the Black Hills National Forest


The Black Hills National Forest produced the agency’s first federal timber sale in 1899. This timber sale is referred to as Case Number One. During the past 120 years, the Forest Service and the timber industry have built a strong partnership in management of the forest. Throughout the first 60 years, timber harvest levels fluctuated between 30,000 to 50,000 CCF (hundred cubic feet) on the 1.2 million-acre forest. Since then, annual harvest levels have fluctuated between 100,000 to 250,000 CCF, making the Black Hills National Forest one of the agency’s highest timber producing forests in the country. In order to effectively manage the forest, the agency has collected and analyzed data regarding timber growth and harvest on the Black Hills for decades. The predominant tree species in the Black Hills is Ponderosa Pine.



The landscape in the Black Hills has changed significantly over the past 20 years due to large wildfire impacts, a 20-year Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) epidemic and high annual timber harvest levels to minimize impacts of the MPB. In recognition of the changed condition, the USDA Forest Service entered into a collaborative agreement with stakeholders from the timber industry and Wyoming and South Dakota State Foresters to quantify the level of change. That agreement resulted in a forest-wide intensified data collection effort, which focused on ponderosa pine, by the USDA Forest Service Research and Development Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) team.  To collect the data, field work was conducted during 2017 to 2019 with final results and analysis shared with stakeholders and the public in early 2020.

The Black Hills National Forest, Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Forest Inventory and Analysis staff have worked extensively with stakeholders to share, scrutinize, and discuss the data and analysis of timber sustainability into the future. Through a transparent process, the Forest Service is involved in a rigorous dialogue with all stakeholders about what the data reveals about the condition of the forest in order to inform our decisions about the future of the commercial timber program. The Forest Service is committed and obligated to rely on the best available science to inform timber program decisions.


What’s Next

The Black Hills National Forest is committed to the continued success of our timber industry partners. The data collected over the past several years is among the considerations that will help the agency to determine adjustments to harvest levels to match the ecological capacity in a way that also provides continued long-term support of the timber industry. Collaboration with partners, stakeholders and local government officials will continue to ensure an economically viable, sustainable program is developed for future generations. The Black Hills National Forest is proud of its 120-year partnership with the timber industry.  


Additional information can be found in the links below. 

Timber Stakeholder & Local Government Official Meetings
National Forest Advisory Board (NFAB)
Support Documents

Provided to the NFAB Working Group by the BKNF

  1. Map 1 - Changes to the Suitable Base, Forest Plan Revision to 2020
  2. Map 2 - Changes to the Unsuitable Base, Forest Plan Revision to 2020
  3. Map 3 - Unsuitable Acres by Timber Unsuitable Code
  4. Map 4 - Acres by Timber Suitable and Unsuitable Code
  5. Map Series – fine scape maps with orthophotos and timber unsuitability codes. Posted on Public Pinyon site:  https://usfs-public.box.com/s/9ssiepkvy5wy0nsvixnt4vuwwxug7hfr
  6. Summary of FS law, policy, and regulation constraint concerning sustainability
  7. Estimates of standing ponderosa pine sawtimber, unsuitable land class - calculated using area by structural stage area derived from the 2020 FSVeg layer and ccf per acre factors derived from the 2017-2019 FIA inventory.
  8. Alternate Long Term Sustained Yield Capacity Scenarios
  9. Forest inventories 1966 – 2011 and other references cited in the Draft GTR (5)
  10. Summary of Mortality Rates by cause of death per available forest inventories
  11. Task 1 Suggested Format and Recommendations


Supporting Documents
Other Presentations
Additional Links

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