Volunteers Clear Trees in Black Elk Wilderness Area

Photo Credit: Jan Thom

Custer, SD, May 23, 2017 – Volunteers recently used cross-cut and hand saws to clear fallen trees from much of the rugged Grizzly Bear Creek Trail (Trail  #7). This trail climbs sharply for a 1,500′ elevation gain through the most remote areas of the Black Elk Wilderness. 2-3 miles of clearing remain to be finished on the Black Elk Peak side.

Dave Thom, Black Hills National Forest retiree and wife, Jan; Ed Fischer, Black Hills National Forest retiree; and retired school principal and musician Hank Fridell, cleared 197 trees, off of 4 miles of trail, totaling 110 person hours over a 6 day stretch this winter and spring.

“It keeps retired folks in shape (a little) and sore (for sure),” said Thom.

The volunteers used light cross-cut and hand saws that are easily transported and good for working in remote locations like the Wilderness where chain saws are not permitted.

Volunteers from the Black Hills Chapter of the Back Country Horseman will be clearing trails over Memorial Weekend (Centennial Trail 89, from Iron Creek Horse Camp to the junction with Blackberry Trail and other areas).

Crews from the Hell Canyon Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest will also be clearing fallen trees starting Memorial Day and continue throughout the summer off of hiking and horse trails in the Black Elk Wilderness. Please note that until trail sections are cleared, they may be impassable for hikers and to horse traffic.

Forest officials urge the public to be aware of your surroundings and use caution when entering the Wilderness. There are a high number of standing dead trees, or snags, in the wilderness area due to mortality from mountain pine beetle infestations. These trees can easily fall in high winds and can fall without warning.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills.

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