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‘Golden Coyote’ National Guard training helps ship lumber to Pine Ridge

More than 2,000 servicemen and women are in the hills conducting training this year.
More than 2,000 servicemen and women are in the hills conducting training this year.(Nick Nelson)
Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 5:41 PM CDT
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CUSTER, S.D. (KOTA) - For the past 37 years, the South Dakota National Guard has worked with the Black Hills National Forest as part of its annual Golden Coyote training. The soldiers learn to use their equipment and skills while completing humanitarian missions.

Since 1984, the Golden Coyote training exercise in the Black Hills preps National Guard members for both overseas missions and defending the homeland. More than 2,000 servicemen and women are in the hills conducting training this year.

Sgt. Aaron Shutts, who is in charge of the timber cutting crew, said that one of the exercises is to load timber slash piles provided by the Forest Service.

“Our timber cutting teams get the chance to actually operate the chainsaws in different environments and different sizes of timber cuts,” Sgt. Shutts said.

But the training is not solely for the benefit of the Guard.

Once the timber is loaded, it’s shipped to the Pine Ridge Reservation for use among its citizens.

Tracy Anderson, the forest service’s Hell Canyon District Ranger, said that this exercise is a great way to reduce some of the fuel in the forest and provide for communities that need timber.

“If we were not to take this material and take it down to Pine Ridge to use for fuelwood, we would end up burning it in the winter to get rid of the potential hazardous fuels that sit here,” Anderson said.

The Guard will be hosting several different training exercises throughout the week as part of Golden Coyote.

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