Custer, SD – Forest officials have completed the initial assessment of roads and recreational sites on the Forest.
"From what we have seen, there are some areas that have been heavily damaged by the blizzard's wet snow and high wind, specifically downed trees and branches. The damage varied across the forest. Broken tree tops, leaning trees, and other associated hazards from the storm may still pose a safety hazard or risk to our employees and visitors", said Ruth Esperance, Mystic District Ranger.
"We have received several calls from the public asking if there are places on the Forest where they can drop off their debris," said Esperance. Forest officials kindly remind the public not to dispose of yard waste from their private property anywhere on the Forest. Please locate a proper disposal site run by a local municipality.
Most primary Forest roads are generally passable throughout the hills. "Many trails and secondary roads are either not passable due to deep snow or downed trees, or are very muddy and soft from recent snow melt. In higher elevations, roads may be closed due to snow until spring", said Scott Jacobson, Public Affairs Officer.
Some recreation sites were also heavily impacted by the storm. Sheridan Lake campground is currently closed due to the amount of downed trees and other hazard trees that pose a risk to visitors. "Forest visitors should use caution. Please be aware that you may be able to drive down a road, only to find that your return out is blocked by a fallen tree or tree top. Be prepared with a saw or shovel as you travel the hills," said Jacobson.
Information on known open roads and recreation sites, including a map of the Forest are posted on the Black Hills National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills. Click on the Alerts and Notices tab, and then click on October 2013 Storm Assessment Information for the latest.
Forest visitors should always be aware of their surroundings and be mindful that dead trees, broken tops, dangling branches can fall at any time. Be aware that roadways may have washed out or are blocked by felled trees.
For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills.