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Black Hills Timber Sustainability General Technical Report (GTR-422)

On March 23, 2021 the USDA Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station published the general technical report, A Scenario-Based Assessment to Inform Sustainable Ponderosa Pine Timber Harvest on the Black Hills National Forest. The report, based on forest census data, provides context, rationale, and evaluation of harvest level scenarios across a range of mortality, growth rates, and time periods in the Black Hills. This report offers scientific information that can inform discussions concerning future harvest levels on the Black Hills National Forest. (A figure error in Table 7 on page 32 was corrected and the GTR updated on July 12, 2021).

To ensure the highest quality data and scientific standards, a comprehensive review process was used. Scientists, technical and blind peer reviews and an open public comment period for a draft report produced over 350 comments. In response to reviewer comments, the final report contains ten times the original number of possible future scenarios covering a wide range of mortality, growth, and harvest rates over 5, 20, and 80 year harvest periods. Additionally, the draft report was expanded and revised to include data descriptions that included information on how gross growth, net growth, and net change are calculated; an appendix to describe land area and determination of suitable land for timber production on the Black Hills National Forest; and clarifications on assumptions and terms like sustainable forest management, sustainable forestry, and sustained yield. There are two documents associated with the comments: 1) A Summary of Comments containing major themes among the comments and how they were addressed and 2) Reconciliation of Comments for RMRS-GTR-422, which contains detailed comments and responses (see "Additional Resources" for links).

A Scenario-Based Assessment to Inform Sustainable Ponderosa Pine Timber Harvest on the Black Hills National Forest is a scientific document that uses rigorous data obtained during a Black Hills National Forest census. The primary finding of the report is that the current volume of standing live sawtimber does not support a long-term sustainable sawtimber supply at current harvest levels, under a wide range of scenarios considering growth and mortality rates. The report suggests harvest levels need to be adjusted to allow sawtimber volume recovery and create long-term sustainability. The report is not a policy or decision document. The data, general technical report, and other best available science are available for consideration during forest management decisions.

For more information about timber sustainability on the Black Hills National Forest and how the forest is engaging the public and key stakeholders, please visit this Black Hills National Forest website.


Rocky Mountain Research Station hosted a science webinar to discuss the data, methodology, and report findings on April 7, 2021 beginning at 10:30 a.m. MDT. Click here for a recording of the webinar.

Contact: Alison Hill, Forest and Woodlands Program Manager, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station: email:

phone: (928) 556-2105.

Black Hills Timber Growth and Yield
General Technical Report

the cover of GTR 422


Flyer thumbnail

Summary of Comments

Screenshot of comment summary

Reconciliation of Comments

Cover of reconciliation of comments document

Additional Resources


Russell T. Graham

Headshot of Russ Graham

Russ Graham was a Research Forester (Silviculturist) with RMRS in Moscow, Idaho. His research activities included studying the role that coarse woody debris plays in forests, addressing large-scale ecosystem assessment and planning, describing northern goshawk habitat, and evaluating the impacts of major wildfires.

Mike Battaglia

headshot of Mike Battaglia

Mike Battaglia is a Research Forester with RMRS in Fort Collins, Colorado. His research focuses on developing and implementing innovative management strategies to enhance forest resiliency to disturbances and evaluating the subsequent ecological impacts of these activities. 

Theresa B. Jain

picture of Terrie Jain on horseback

Terrie Jain is a Research Forester (Silviculturist) with RMRS in Moscow, Idaho. Her research focuses on developing, implementing, and evaluating alternative silvicultural systems and methods for addressing multiple management objectives.