Review panel makes ‘corrections’ to Forest Service report that suggests reducing timber harvests

The Forest Service report draws concerns from local group.
The Forest Service report draws concerns from local group.(Nick Nelson)
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 4:34 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A review panel is issuing corrective actions to the U.S. Forest Service, and a report they issued, calling for the reduction of timber production in the Black Hills National Forest.

The corrections were brought about by requests made from the Black Hills Forest Resource Association, that raised red flags about unsubstantiated claims in the report.

Ben Wudtke, Black Hills Forest Resource Association Executive Director, said that one of the biggest misconceptions in the report is that there’s been a 50% reduction in timber production since the late 90s.

“That confusion arose between changes in acreages that the report used to quantify the timber resources,” Wudtke said. “This most recent review panel affirmed that that was misleading.”

The U.S. Forest Service, though this review panel, is not retracting the entire report, and still plans to go forward with it.

In a statement sent to us, a representative from the Forest Service said:

Wudtke, however, points to continuing wildfires, and the pine beetle infestation, as examples of why forest management is so important.

“It was during that time period that we really saw the benefits of forest management through timber harvesting and thinning really take hold on the Black Hills National Forest, and when you see that direct result, the green forest left, that means a lot to folks, including us as an industry.”

Wudtke adds that damage has already been done with the closure of the Hill City sawmill.