Forest Service planting over 153,000 Ponderosa pine trees
CUSTER, SD. – Over the course of two and a half weeks, the Black Hills National Forest will oversee the planting of over 153,000 ponderosa pine seedlings across approximately 400 acres, to help reforest the old Jasper fire area on the Hell Canyon Ranger District.
“Each contract employee plants about 1,000 trees per day! We try and get at least 10,000 trees planted each day, although we have accomplished as many as 15,000 trees a day in really good weather,” said Nancy Bayne, Hell Canyon Ranger District Silviculturist.
In 2000, the Jasper Fire burned over 83,500 acres throughout the southern Hills. Bayne said after the fire there were thousands of acres that no longer had a seed source of mature trees and those acres, without aide, were incapable of regrowth. Foresters started thinking about reforestation.
Working with the Bessey Nursery in Nebraska, foresters began the process of growing a pine stock to be hauled and replanted in the fire scar. Since 2002, foresters and crews have been successful with the replanting process.
Replanting begins with crews loading up shoulder bags of seedlings, spreading out, and working their way across hillsides planting. They are followed by crew members that place a protective mesh tube on every other tree made of a substance that will decompose in 3-5 years.
“We found out that deer and the elk are hard on the seedlings and we started tubing them for added protection,” said Bayne.
Bayne said spring is the ideal time to plant the seedlings. “This time of year is when all the moisture comes.”