Formed in early 2010, the Black Hills Back Country Horsemen of South Dakota adopted portions of three separate trail systems in the Black Hills National Forest. They’ve worked with local fed- eral and state land management agen- cies to keep trails open to equestrians and other users. They maintain and im- prove trails, trailheads and equestrian campgrounds. They begin their trail work in May and schedule at least one work weekend per month throughout the summer.
The Forest is in the midst of a mountain pine beetle epidemic that has killed millions of trees in the Black Hills. Eventually these dead trees fall, ob- structing the trails. Winter snowstorms and occasional blizzards also bend trees across the trails. Club members use chainsaws and handsaws to remove the deadfall, which is a constant never- ending process. They use hand nippers to trim low hanging branches that work- ers on foot can’t reach. Power trimmers are also used for brushy areas. When working in wilderness areas, they use crosscut saws.
On June 12, they gathered for their second work weekend of the summer. They spent their time working on the Old Baldy/Rimrock/Little Spearfish trails on the Northern Hills Ranger District of the Black Hills National For- est. This trail system consists of almost 25 miles of nonmotorized trail open to horseback, mountain bike and hiking users. Twelve members showed up to volunteer, so they split into two groups and used pack animals to transport equipment. Two hiker members who don’t own livestock even joined in to help. One day, they stayed on foot and used a pack mule to carry the tools. Through this dynamic teamwork, the dedicated crew cleared 62 trees.