Black Hills National Forest Alerts


1. Read assessments

2. Comment on Projects

3.Study and learn

4. Contact Politicians

5. Contact legislators about SB 134 (ASAP 2/25/24)



The  Black Hills National Forest has released its’ final assessments of the Forest Condition on Dec 3rd, 2023.   Visit this link to learn more about and download the Assessments  –



Some time after January 2024, it will be releasing a scoping notice on the Forest Plan Revision, and people will need to be commenting to the Forest when the scoping notice is published.  



    On our calendar  ( we post notices from the BHNF of the opportunity to comment on Forest Service NEPA review – this is where they take public comment on their planned activities such as: timber cutting, to grazing or mining approvals, or building of power lines, roads, telecommunication towers-The Black Hills National Forest is logging trees at a rate that can not be sustained.

Feb 28th is the deadline for comments on Bluelead Vegetation Project (visit our calendar on that date for info)

March 6th is the deadline for comments on Northwest Forest Management Project  (visit our calendar on that date for info)

March 11th is the deadline for Objections to the Spruce Project (only people who commented during the project’s NEPA review can object)

 (visit our calendar on that date for info)




Visit some web pages to learn more: 

To the Norbeck Society web page at

 A video presentation by Solomon Smith on BHNF Unsustainable Timber Program

A Forest Service technical report, 2021

5 letters written to the Regional Forester or the BHNF Supervisor by environmental groups/individuals and retired foresters. 2021-2023



   Many politicians in SD and Wyoming are supporting the not sustainable logging. This puts political pressure on the Forest Service to allow over-cutting.

  It is imperative to contact our elected representatives  and tell them to support a reduction in the rate of logging of the Black Hills.  This includes federal senators and our representative, as well as the SD Legislators, Governor and your County Commissioners within the Black Hills. 


CONTACT YOUR SD LEGISLATORS ON SB 134 (House by morning of Monday 3/4/24)


SB 134 (Link to the bill’s web page)  – 

THIS BILL IS  DEAD-  PHAS OPPOSES THIS BILL –  A bill to make an appropriation to create the healthy forest critical infrastructure relief and grant program and to declare an emergency. 

Bill progress (DEAD 3/4/24)

    This bill will be voted on,  on Monday 3/4/24.  They meet early at 10 am CT &  it is about 12th or 13th bill on the agenda.

         It was  first referred to Senate State Affairs, who on 2/2/24, passed it out of committee to Joint Appropriations with a do pass recommendation. Nancy Hilding can send you,  on request, a copy of our written testimony on the bill for State Affairs. 

    It was up in Joint Appropriations for a hearing on 2/20/24. The bill was amended on 2/20/24 to reduce the award to the timber businesses from 20 million to 6 million and to restrict it so only half of it  (instead of 75%) can go to one entity. Thus Neiman (largest harvester of BHNF saw timber)  can now get only 3 million instead of 15 million. Nancy Hilding and Jim Terwilliger (the head of SD Bureau of Finance and Management) testified against it.  (You can listen to our testimony on-line –

No action was taken on 2/20/22.

        On 2/23/24 Appropriation amended it again and reduced the appropriated amount to $1 and passed it forward to the Senate floor.  A bill proponent asked for an amendment, to change amount awarded to $1, as a tactic to keep the bill alive, while proponents attempt to get an answer from the Federal Government on the question of if the proposed grant qualifies for federal money (Which the SD Bureau of Finance and Management says it does not).  This leaves the bill alive and allows for future negotiations on the amount to be awarded, description of grant conditions or source of money. 

    While it is not currently on the Monday 2/26/24 Senate calendar, we are told to expect that calendar to be amended due to requirements of legislative rules and for the bill to be voted on on the Senate Floor on Monday 2/26/24. This did not happen. It was to be voted on 2/27/24.  We are told that the $1 funding amount Appropriations assigned normally reflects controversy over the bill.  Folks need to be writing their Senator or all of them, if you want. (Scroll down for e-mails of all of them). 

         It survived the Senate with $1  appropriated, it has next moved to the House floor. If the House Floor approves a different amount than the Senate it must go back to the Senate for concurrence or to a conference committee.  So there may be future calls to contact  the Senate again.  The Head of Bureau of Finance and Management still says it does not qualify for ARPA funds.  House vote on 3/4/24. It was killed on the house floor. This bill had an emergency clause, so it needed two thirds to pass. Two thirds of 70 is 46.62. The bill as amended,  failed to achieve that number, first vote  YEAS 44, NAYS 26  & There was a vote on whether to allow a  reconsideration vote; YEAS 46, NAYS 24: and the actual reconsideration vote YEAS 41, NAYS 29

Issues with the bill:

    This bill should be opposed, as it will help prop up the unattainable logging of the Black Hills, which is ongoing, in violation of federal law, due to political pressure. It is also socialism for the logging industry. There is ample data indicating that due to wildfires, bark beetles and overcutting, there is not a sufficient inventory of trees to support Black Hills timber industry as it exists today.  Unfortunately, it will need to pare down to be viable long-term.  It does not make sense for taxpayers to support the current timber industry infrastructure, when it cannot remain viable.  Instead, the timber industry should be focused on downsizing for the long run.

ARPA allocation

    It is our understanding that the bill seeks to get Federal money that SD has received from the American Rescue Plan Act (Covid rescue legislation of 2021). Here is a link on Wikipedia that explains that fund

    The head of Bureau of Finance & Management testified twice that he did not think the bill met the requirements of the American Rescue Plan Act grant program.  He said that if the moneys are used inappropriately, the State might be audited and SD would have to return the money spent to the Feds. 

      Here is a link to the CFR for the rule that governs this federal grant program for State & Local Recovery Funds-  –  For more information on how the SD State Fiscal Recovery Fund works- see web pages on >  

Low Inventory of saw timber, not Covid, is the threat to saw mills

             Most of the reductions in timber supply the Black Hills industry are facing, are related to lack of standing saw timber inventory on the BHNF & are due to decades of over cutting (at a not sustainable rate) and are not related to Covid. Toni Strauss, deputy Supervisor sent me (Hilding)  an e-mail on 2/6/24 that said “We are also not able to quantify any impacts related to the COVID pandemic.” 

        If the timber industry is allocated access to SD’s share of federal grant money that it might not qualify for, it would be depriving worthy Covid harmed or threatened entities in SD of accessing that pool of federal grant money, whose money they actually would qualify for. 

            The major purchaser of Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) sawlogs is Neiman. Neiman might get 3 million from this bill, as the bill is currently written. Neiman has 2 Black Hills saw mills:  in Spearfish, SD & Hulette, Wyoming. Neiman also has 2 other mills in Colorado & Oregon. 

            The BHNF has 200,000-400,000 acres of little pine trees (one-sixth to one third of the Forest). These little trees, close to the ground, can act as ladder fuels to carry fire to the canopy and they are a fire risk.  These thickets were created by opening the canopy, which lets sunlight and water down to the ground and which are an unfortunate side effect of both logging to prevent mountain pine beetle and of beetle kill.  Removing these thickets is pre-commercial logging, that does not create saw timber to supply the mills, but will create jobs relative to Black Hills vegetation management. 

         The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $1.4 billion for the USDA Forest Service in wildfire risk reduction funds. The Inflation Reduction Act provided an additional $1.8 billion to reduce the risk of wildfire to neighborhoods, infrastructure, watersheds, and the many other benefits forests provide. .

       A low inventory of adult trees on the landscape, will effect many other multiple-uses, other than timber.


For more information on logging issues in the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF)  we refer you:

The Norbeck Society has a series of web pages on the issue. You start viewing at the Norbeck Society web page at:

 A video presentation by Solomon Smith on BHNF Unsustainable Timber Program, 2023

A Forest Service (FS)  technical report, 2021 (This FS report told the BHNF in 2021 that its’ logging rate is unsustainable)

Five letters written to the Regional Forester or the BHNF Supervisor by environmental groups/individuals and retired foresters about the unsustainable cutting of the BHNF in 2021-2023. PHAS helped write 4 of these letters. (You need a Scribd account to access, but Scribd accounts are free during the first trial month)  

Black Hills National Forest Revised Forest Assessments: Timber, Oct 2023 (we suggest folks look at graphs in the appendix)

Some Old References – old generic discussions of beetles and fire 

“Pine Beetle Infestation and Fire Risk in the Black Hills”  by Grant Foster ,  2010….. Link to URL:

“Logging to control Insects, The Science and Myths Behind Managing Forest Insect Pests, A Synthesis of Independently Reviewed Research,” 2005  …. Link to URL:




You can call and leave a message with the pages; tell them who message is for, the message, who you are. The page will deliver your phone message to their desk, Senate 773-3821, House 773-3851

Below find the e-mail for Joint Appropriations and the entire Senate

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2024 Joint Committee on Appropriations . their

Their web page – where you can find agendas and minutes:

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