Black Hills National Forest Service plants nearly 3 million trees in 20 years

Local News

CUSTER, S.D. (KELO) — More than 153,000 pine trees are being planted across 400 acres of land in the Black Hills. This is to help reforest the old Jasper Fire Area near Custer which burned 20 years ago.

Each employee plants about 1,000 trees a day. Altogether, crews are planting up to 15,000 trees each day. It’s a project that’s been going on for years.

“The past 20 years has been a great effort to get trees and the landscape and we are going to continue this as long as we can. As long as we have people, time and resources. We are working hard with what we have to get some trees back on this landscape,” Jacobson said.

Scott Jacobson with the Black Hills National Forest Service says it could take 60 to 80 years before the trees are full grown.

“But if we don’t start now, we won’t have trees out here. So we are managing this land for the future of the Black Hills,” Jacobson said.

The Pandorosa Pine trees being planted are actually a native tree of the Black Hills.

John Word is the Natural Resource Staff Officer for the Black Hills National Forest.

He says crews will dig a hole in the soft ground for the seed, then pat it down. A cone is placed around the young tree to protect it from wildlife.

“The process is usually predetermined by the topography or the lay of the land. Areas where we have additional cover. You’ll see we are on a ridge top to take advantage of some extra shelter as well as strategically spaced out throughout areas of the burn,” Word said.

Word says over the course of 20 years, around 3 million trees have been planted in this part of the Black Hills.

National Forest Service Officials say that planting the seeds during springtime is ideal. It is when the most moisture is expected which is what the trees need to grow.

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