Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"Black Hills Forestry History" by Bill Coburn

Bill Coburn presenting "Black Hills Forestery History" on May 2, 2017
Bill Coburn
Bill Coburn, forestry specialist, presented "Black Hills Forestry History" to the Spearfish Area Historical Society on May 2, 2017 to an audience of over 80 people at the Spearfish Senior Citizen Center.

     From the Custer Expedition to current events, the Black Hills has enticed folks interested in forestry.  Documentation from the Custer Expedition in 1874 noted the young forest of pines and also the forest fires.  In 1875, the Jenney Expedition with geologist Walter Jenney also made comments on the pine forest.  (Note that Calamity Jane was a stowaway on this expedition and that is how she came to Deadwood).  By 1876, portable sawmills were set up in Custer by Murphy Sawmill.   In 1880, John Durst and Sons started up the first portable sawmill in Hill City.  Seventeen years later there were 42 portable sawmills in the Black Hills producing 1.5 billion board feet, with 1/3 waste.

     Key historical events included:
·         1891 - Forest Reserve Act was passed with the goal of creating forest reserves and national parks. 
·         1897 - H. Graves Report included comment of the dense second growth of pine in the Black Hills. 
·         1897 - The federal government Organic Act established forest reserves available to the public and regulated those reserves. 
·         1898 - The first timber sale by the federal government was near Nemo and was sold to the Homestake Mine.  The same year, a mountain pine beetle infestation was noted.
·         1901 - Seth Bullock became the second forest supervisor of the Black Hills Forest Reserve.
·         1880's to 1890s - Forestry loss due to fires from lightning, trains, and slash burning. 
·         1896 to 1901 - The infestation of mountain pine beetle destroyed 3,000 acres of forest and grew to 116,000 acres
·         1908 - The Black Hills Reserve became the Black Hills National Forest (included the Bear Lodge Mountains)

     Today, the Black Hills National Forest sells more timber at 9-11 billion board feet per year than any other national forest in the USA.

     A few facts about Mountain Pine Beetle -- 500 to 3,000 beetles will fly to a tree within 2-3 days when they give off a gathering scent.  When the tree is full, the beetles give off an anti-gathering scent and the beetles go elsewhere.  When trees are thinned, the beetles cannot find their way to the next large tree and they get lost.