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Tour a living laboratory from home

Photo: Sign - NAtional Forest Experimental Forest, Black Hills
Black Hills Experimental Forest sign, South Dakota. USDA Forest Service photo.

SOUTH DAKOTA – Have you ever wanted to tour a living laboratory but don’t have a way to get there? Or, perhaps you are planning to visit, but want to get the lay of the land first. Well, now you can do both! We welcome you to take the new virtual tour of a 3,400-acre outdoor living laboratory in South Dakota—the Black Hills Experimental Forest. This brand new BHEF virtual tour is a story map highlighting decades of research on management of ponderosa pine forests.

The tour has ten stops, each showcasing local resource issues or research projects. Items of interest on your tour include the impacts of tree density, management practices and bark beetles on forest growth and forest health. Videos, photos, text and publication links allow you to immerse yourself and learn about this exciting living laboratory.

The USDA Forest Service established the BHEF in 1961 with the purpose of creating a landscape on which to test, modify, and develop practices for maximum production of high-quality timber, while exploring the effects of such practices on soil moisture relationships, game habitat, forage production for range livestock, snow accumulation and melt, streamflow and other related uses. Today, researchers at the BHEF continue to study natural and artificial regeneration, timber stand improvement, water supply, climate, fire, diseases, insect infestations and human use, and many other elements that influence the health of ponderosa pine-dominated forests.

The USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station manages the Black Hills Experimental Forest, located within the Black Hills National Forest near Rapid City, South Dakota.  

Aerial view of Black Hills forest
Aerial photo of the Black Hills Experimental Forest, South Dakota. USDA Forest Service photo.