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USDA Forest Service Deadline for Spruce Vegetation Management Project March 25, 2022
February 27 - March 25
The USDA Forest Service welcomes your review and comments on the Spruce Vegetation
Management Project, a forest-wide project to treat white spruce (Picea glauca) stands. The Black Hills National Forest announced a scoping document for the “Spruce Vegetation Management Project,” which will involve the logging the largest spruce trees up to 25,000 acres including via 40-acre clearcuts.
Supporting documents, including a detailed scoping package and project map can be found online here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61599.
Electronic comments can be submitted through the electronic comment form located on the project webpage (https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61599) through the “Comment/Object on Project” link found on the right-hand side of the page. Comments may also be submitted by means of written or printed comment via the U.S. Postal Service or hand delivery to: Jeff Underhill, 1019 N. 5th Street, Custer, SD 57730.
Treatments would occur on up to 25,000 acres. Proposed activities include regeneration harvests with reserve trees, overstory removal, group selection, machine piling, pile burning, and prescribed fire using a condition-based management approach. Follow up maintenance treatments are proposed to ensure regeneration requirements are met and to encourage pine and aspen seedlings and saplings over spruce.
The scoping letter justifies this logging as necessary because the forest’s current acreage of spruce exceeds targets in the Forest Plan. See Scoping Package at 5 (“the total area of forestland considered as white spruce has significantly expanded from an estimated 15,000-20,000 acres forest-wide to approximately 50,000 acres”).
Proposed logging will break up “pure” spruce stands, to provide “heterogeneity” in structural condition. In mixed conifer stands where spruce are allegedly overtaking ponderosa pine and aspen, logging will purge spruce, and the landscape will be replanted with ponderosa.
Much of the logging will target the largest trees; it appears that in most prescriptions, everything over 7.0 inches DBH will be chain-sawed. “Regeneration treatments,”, “larger than 40 acres are anticipated,” which may require approval by the regional forester