Black Hills National Forest feeling merry and bright, while Christmas Tree lots say ‘bah humbug’

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 6:18 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The dominos keep falling, supply chain issues are now affecting Christmas.

This year’s Grinch is making it that much harder to get a Christmas Tree.

For 42 years, the Club for Boys in Rapid City has sold Christmas Trees to the community, in a good year selling a few thousand. But recently, things haven’t been as merry and bright.

“We used to be able to order five trucks worth of trees and last year, for example,” said Mark Kline, the Assistant Executive Director for the Rapid City Club for Boys. “Because tree growers cut back in 2008 {due to the recession}, they didn’t have enough trees to fill all their orders so they actually cut our order last year by 60 trees, the Frasers, which are our most popular.”

And now there’s another issue.

“This year, we had a problem getting our trees trucked in,” continued Kline. “So many of the truckers are working on getting the freight out of the ports to Black Friday shops, that to get a trucker this year cost us 50% more just to have someone hall trees into us.”

A majority of the trees come from Michigan and Oregon but for many families in Western South Dakota, the tradition of having a real comes in the form of cutting down their own.

So how are things looking in the Black Hills National Forest?

Actually great!

In fact, the forest service sells 4 to 5 thousand permits a year and even allows people from out of state to come and cut down a Christmas Tree.

“There’s plenty of trees out there. This actually falls into fuels reduction in a form,” said Halley Legge, a recreation and forestry technician with the Back Hills National Forest. “We have plenty of people from Wyoming that come to the South Dakota side. But once you have the permit, you can come into the Black Hills and get your tree.”

Despite issues nationally, the forest service is still able to give out thousands of permits for only $10 each.

“We have a lot of trees in the Black Hills National Forest, we’re a very resilient growing forest,” continued Legge. “So we sell between 4 and 5,000 trees per year and so far we haven’t had any issues with the lack of trees or spruce trees, which are primarily the most common harvested.”

Despite there being an abundance of trees locally, the issue still remains for the fundraising event at the Club for Boys.

“Well, I think it does push more people to buy artificial trees,” said Kline. “It’s a cycle, a seven-year cycle, and until those trees were out, we’ll lose some customers.”

Funny enough, the tree shortage isn’t just for real trees.

The cost of artificial trees is up whereas the supply is down, with some artificial trees costing 30% more than in years past.

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