As an imperative to preserve public spaces the Biden administration has directed nearly $5 billion to steer the country on a path of protecting at least 30 percent of the occupied territory and 30 percent of adjoining ocean areas by 2030 (30x30).
So, as part of the 30x30 Initiative the Bureau of Land Management has purchased about twenty acres of an old mining claim on unceded Lakota ground just outside the Deadwood city limits. The parcel abuts the Grizzly Gulch burn so visitors can drive up Terrace Street to a future trailhead.
Horses and mountain bikes will be allowed but off highway vehicles and snowmobiles will still have to access Forest Service and BLM through Spruce Gulch. According to Chip Kimball at the BLM Field Office in Belle Fourche the City of Deadwood
wouldn’t grant an easement compelling this acquisition. Black Hills Trails is developing a system of footpaths.
Most of the vegetation on the 274,000 surface acres of BLM in the South Dakota is prairie grassland or juniper woodlands but the trees at the Fort Meade Recreation Area are mostly ponderosa pine and bur oak. Around Lead and Deadwood pine and oak are mixed with spruce, birch, and quaking aspen. Much of the 2002 Grizzly Gulch Fire occurred on BLM ground.
The twenty year anniversary of that Black Hills Energy-caused wildfire is coming this July and watching it for 24 hours was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. The heat was so intense whole trees were lifted then sent downwind for nearly a mile setting spot fires on Pillar Peak.
Using Mt. Moriah as a gauge I estimated the flames rising to 800 feet above my vantage point near where The Lodge at Deadwood is today. Had the wind not switched and sent the fire toward Galena, it could have very quickly marched into Whitewood or Sturgis or both.
One could almost reach up and touch the bellies of the slurry bombers after they deployed their cargo over south Deadwood at an elevation below me then flew over my position.
In two hours during the following May I harvested over two hundred pounds of morels which carpeted the dozer lines and old skidder trails. A hard rain made another thousand pounds compost for what holds soil in place up there today.
In 2012 raspberries, serviceberries, aspen and oak were exploding into the hills where pine once infested those draws and buttes
now Bighorn sheep seem to be doing well in the burn. The animals are proliferating
and waiting to jump in front of the drunken bikers who attend the Sturgis Rally.