By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
A proposed management plan for the Black Hills National Forest in Wyoming and South Dakota doesn’t allow for enough timber cutting, say the governors of both states.
“We are concerned about the apparent desire of the FS (U.S. Forest Service) to drastically reduce the timber program in the BHNF,” Governors Mark Gordon and Kristi Noem say in a letter sent last week to Forest Supervisor Jeff Tomac.
The governors request another plan be drafted, and that the public be given time to comment on it.
Gordon’s office had no comment beyond the letter’s content, spokesman Michael Pearlman told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
The Black Hills National Forest covers roughly 1.2 million acres – about 110 miles long and 70 miles wide – in northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. The primary tree species there is Ponderosa pine.
Timber cutting and timber mills have long been economic industries supported by the forest and are vital to both states, Gordon and Noem wrote.
The governors also claim that the current draft plan isn’t scientifically sound.
“The BHNF Plan revision assessments included countless statements that are not backed by scientific material,” they wrote. “Providing these assertions without scientific authority hinders our ability to meaningfully engage in the revision process.”
The plan as it stands doesn’t take into account tree growth, reduction in timber resources and “inaccurate mortality rates” among trees, according to the letter.