Black Hills Forestry

Black Hills Forestry: A History

John F. Freeman
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Black Hills Forestry
    Book Description:

    The first study focused on the history of the Black Hills National Forest, its centrality to life in the region, and its preeminence within the National Forest System,Black Hills Forestryis a cultural history of the most commercialized national forest in the nation.

    One of the first forests actively managed by the federal government and the site of the first sale of federally owned timber to a private party, the Black Hills National Forest has served as a management model for all national forests. Its many uses, activities, and issues-recreation, timber, mining, grazing, tourism, First American cultural usage, and the intermingling of public and private lands-expose the ongoing tensions between private landowners and public land managers. Freeman shows how forest management in the Black Hills encapsulates the Forest Service's failures to keep up with changes in the public's view of forest values until compelled to do so by federal legislation and the courts. In addition, he explores how more recent events in the region like catastrophic wildfires and mountain pine beetle epidemics have provided forest managers with the chance to realign their efforts to create and maintain a biologically diverse forest that can better resist natural and human disturbances.

    This study of the Black Hills offers an excellent prism through which to view the history of the US Forest Service's land management policies. Foresters, land managers, and regional historians will findBlack Hills Forestrya valuable resource.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-299-3
    Subjects: History, Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Map of Black Hills National Forest
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In an address to the annual meeting of the Agricultural History Society held in Washington, DC, April 15, 1937, Gifford Pinchot, long retired as first chief of the US Forest Service, took credit for creating American forestry. By forestry, he meant the science of managing stands of trees as agricultural crops. In his opinion, no American before him had worked forests in that way. Because the results of a forester’s work do not appear during his lifetime, the forester is trained to take the long-term view, the application of which Pinchot called conservation.¹

    In taking credit for creating American forestry,...

  7. 1 Exploring the Forest
    (pp. 7-20)

    In the spring of 1897 Gifford Pinchot, acting as confidential forest agent to Interior Secretary Cornelius Bliss, endorsed the dispatch of his assistant, Henry Graves, to the Black Hills Forest Reserve to assess its timbering potential. Published in 1899, his report remains the primary written source for studies seeking to understand the nature of the pre-settlement forest. Although controversy remains as to the interpretation of the dynamics of natural disturbances, especially fires, the report does contain indisputable topographical facts that, combined with qualitative descriptions by earlier explorers, provide an overview of the forest setting.

    Geographically, the Black Hills are situated...

  8. 2 Unbridled Use of the Forest
    (pp. 21-32)

    During the first quarter-century of settlement, from the advent of prospectors in 1874 up to the first sale of government timber in 1899, more than 1.5 billion board feet were cut in the Black Hills.¹ Annualized, that amount represents about two thirds of what was cut in 2010; in the early days, however, timbering was concentrated around mining camps where loggers denuded entire hillsides, wasted more wood than they used, and degraded watersheds. It could be argued that long-standing federal land policies and an absence of federal regulatory enforcement contributed to such despoliation.

    Following President Grant’s deliberately ambiguous executive order,...

  9. 3 Federal Administration of the Forest Reserve
    (pp. 33-50)

    Under the headline “Civilization Stabbed,” theCuster Weekly Chroniclereported that President Cleveland’s February 22, 1897, executive order “may be safely regarded as one of the most vital blows at civilization, so far as the Black Hills is concerned, that has ever been perpetrated by the ruler of any nation in the history of modern or ancient times.”¹ Anticipating immediate closure of the forest to everyone—miners, ranchers, farmers, tourists, and inhabitants of communities within the forest—local newspapers reflected unanimous opposition to creation of the Black Hills Forest Reserve. Within ten years, however, the newspapers would reflect general acceptance,...

  10. 4 Rooseveltians and Black Hills Forestry
    (pp. 51-68)

    In his celebrated first message to the US Congress on December 3, 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt outlined his conservation agenda, dividing it into forests and waters as reflected in the interests of two trusted advisers: Gifford Pinchot, forester in the US Department of Agriculture, and Frederick H. Newell, hydrographer for the US Geological Survey. Roosevelt declared that “the fundamental idea of forestry is the perpetuation of forests by use. Forest protection is not an end of itself; it is a means to increase and sustain the resources of our country and the industries which depend upon them. The preservation of...

  11. 5 Pinchot’s Legacy: Managing the Timber
    (pp. 69-88)

    “The Black Hills Will Have Perpetual Timber Supply. Forest Service Has Placed Forests under Intensive Management.” So read a 1922 headline for a story about the first long-range plan in the nation for the management of national forest timber stands. Prepared by Black Hills National Forest supervisor George A. Duthie and publicized jointly with Harney National Forest supervisor John F. Conner to emphasize its broad application, the plan meant to “insure the proper handling of a forest to produce a continuous crop of greatest possible volume, and permit an annual harvest just as the farmer harvests his alfalfa field each...

  12. 6 Peter Norbeck’s Intrusion: Travel and Tourism
    (pp. 89-106)

    In the summer of 1905, Peter Norbeck and two friends made the first known automobile trip from the Missouri River to the Black Hills, no small feat considering that the men had to follow unmarked trails in their single-cylinder nine-horsepower Cadillac. By background a farmer from Redfield in northeastern South Dakota, Norbeck at the time owned and operated a highly successful water-well drilling business. While in the Black Hills, according to his biographer, Norbeck envisioned the establishment of a state game park in Custer County to augment the population of deer and reintroduce native game such as buffalo and elk....

  13. 7 Forestry for Community Stability and Economic Growth
    (pp. 107-132)

    In announcing the extension of grazing lease periods, circulated to local newspapers in March 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of agriculture, Henry A. Wallace, included this statement: “The basic function of the National Forest system is to help bring stability and security to the social and economic structure of communities dependent upon its resources and to the nation as a whole. That is why National Forest resources are conserved through use rather than being withdrawn from use.”¹ By giving conservative timbering a social as well as an economic purpose, Secretary Wallace placed the national forests firmly within the context...

  14. 8 Advent of Public Participation
    (pp. 133-154)

    In the summer of 1966, Wallace Lloyd, recreation specialist for the Black Hills National Forest, told a group in Rapid City that the Forest Service was in the early stages of considering a large-scale recreation development on and around Harney Peak. The Forest Service envisioned construction of a paved road to within one third of a mile of the summit, a large parking lot, an aerial tramway reaching nearly to the summit, and a visitor center in place of the lookout tower. The Forest Service contemplated constructing picnic and camping facilities nearby, as well as rebuilding two access roads. Accordingly,...

  15. 9 Perils of Accommodation
    (pp. 155-168)

    In an editorial titled “Forest Service Deserves Better Treatment from Black Hills Citizens,”Custer County Chronicle’s Reda Hansen lamented the angry public comments that, she believed, had gone far beyond the issue of that new road near the Ventling ranch: ranchers deplored roads crossing their properties, inholders protested timbering near their houses, hikers complained about damaged trails, loggers objected to clearing slash, off-road vehicle enthusiasts opposed road closures, skeptics argued that such roads would not remain closed, and hunters complained about disturbances to wildlife. “Now, all [Supervisor James] Mathers and his staff have to do,” she wrote, “is determine how...

  16. 10 Forestry and Forest Industry
    (pp. 169-188)

    In making his case for a constant supply of federal timber, Jim D. Neiman of Hulett reminded members of a congressional subcommittee in 2009 that the timber industry was indispensable to achieving Forest Service planning goals. With specific reference to intermingling land ownership in the Black Hills, he made the additional argument that by obtaining 75 percent of its saw-timber from the Black Hills National Forest, Neiman Enterprises could use economy of scale to manage smaller stands for private landowners, an argument Gifford Pinchot would have appreciated. Neiman also envisioned changes in forestry as the result of better science and...

  17. 11 From Confrontation to Compromise
    (pp. 189-212)

    On a Thursday evening in October 1994, the South Dakota chapter of the Society of American Foresters sponsored a public forum on ecosystem management in Lead. Since publication of the draft forest plan in June of that year, the foresters had heard much speculation, both from within and outside their profession, as to what changes ecosystem management might bring to the forest. Because the Black Hills National Forest was regarded as the first in the national forest system formally to adopt the principles of ecosystem management, the foresters believed discussion and greater understanding of the matter would be timely and...

  18. 12 Forest Values, Forest Service
    (pp. 213-226)

    At the dawn of the new century, the front line of forestry in the Black Hills cut through the Mystic Ranger District that borders Rapid City and surrounds Hill City, Keystone, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Within its boundaries are 311,000 acres of national forest land and 45,000 acres of private land. District Ranger Robert J. Thompson liked to tell visitors that no point on public land within his district was more than 3 miles from private land, which means that Forest Service land borders on thousands of backyards.

    Despite repeated warnings about the effects of unbridled development within the...

  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 227-238)
  20. Index
    (pp. 239-246)