BlackHIllsForestPros newest web page for information about Frank Carroll and news about forests and forestry

HI, and thanks for following me at  Most of my news and information is now available at where you can find out about a wide array of subjects matter including our new partnership, Professional Forest Management, LLC, which is up and running as we speak.  We have been busy assisting legal teams and private entities as expert witnesses in wild fire cases involving insurance and tort claims, and in helping our neighbors, public and private, prepare for wildfires and mountain pine beetles by thinning and managing trees.

We have also been working with Karl Svensson and other volunteers to prepare for the last event in a series of events called the Bark Beetle Blues, a way for our community to deal with the emotional reality of the vast changes coming to the Black Hills (and forests across the West) as a result of mountain pine beetle attacks.  This Saturday night, January 18, at 4pm we will host a wake followed by The Burning Beetle, a big bonfire with a very beautifully made 28 foot long bark beetle, a symbol of “out with the old, in with the new” at Pageant Hill in Custer.  Pictured below, Karl Svensson is the chief architect of this complicated structure that has legs, antennae, and a head and body, all built with the technology that built Viking long ships.  It will be a fun way to start the new year.


Spraying pine trees for mountain pine beetles and Ips pine engraver beetles


It’s time to spray our ponderosa pine trees, and any other pines and spruces and firs, against the continuing mass attacks of various beetles. Ips are rising in high numbers this year as they did in the drought year of 2003. Ips pine engravers killed more pine trees in 2003 than mountain pine beetles which is alarming.

Timberline Tree Spraying and Fertilizing from Monument, Colorado, and now with an office in Hill City, is already at work as is TigerTree Inc., a company new to the Hills from Laramie, WY.  Both companies have years of experience in pine beetle mitigation and control, and both are armed with the latest equipment and techniques to guarantee your trees will be safe from beetles and boring insects.

You can expect top quality service from either company and free consultations about tree spraying.  They can be contacted online by Googling their company names.

Dave Mason represents Timberline and can be reached at (605) 787-0448.

Jake Dahlin represents TigerTree and can be reached at (814) 241-1165.

Contact me for references and further information on either company.

I make arrangements for tree spraying, consult with you on your property and which trees should be sprayed according to your wishes and budget, and I can help you with a multitude of other forestry related issues.  Please call me anytime at (605) 440-2039.


Rapid City Journal: Frank Carroll: State Addicted to Gambling

CARROLL: State addicted to gambling

Rep. Dick Werner, R-Huron, said penny bets will keep gambling “fresh and entertaining.” Roman emperor Caligula felt the same way about the gladiatorial games. He figured more blood provided by unmatched fighters would keep the crowds lining up for the games. Of course, he threw in free bread…

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Chipping trees good for forest in Black Hills

NEWS – Forest Practices and Tips
Munoz Thinning Lappland 2012
Tree specialists urge homeowners to chip trees
Rapid City, SD – Thinning ponderosa pine trees by chipping and mulching the trees in place is good for our Black Hills forests.
The International Society of Aboriculture (ISA), the people who take care of trees, recommends chipping trees to a depth of 2-4 inches across the landscape where chippers can be used.
“Chipping makes a lot more sense than cutting and chunking in the current pine beetle infestation,” said Frank Carroll, a forestry consultant in Custer, SD.
Chipping dead pine trees not only gets rid of the fire and fuels hazard but also kills the pine beetles if the trees are chipped in time, Carroll said.  Cutting and chunking leaves the heavy fuel on the forest floor to feed summer wildfires, he said.  Chipping get rid of the fire problem and stops the beetles.
Foresters across the Black Hills are racing to cut the more than 5 million newly dead pine trees before the next mountain pine beetle attacks expected in the summer of 2013. 
Carroll said the most important thing homeowners can do is thin their forests and spray the trees they want to save.  Foresters thin forests by cutting the trees down and cutting and chipping the trees, cutting and chunking, piling for burning, hauling to lumber mills, or simply cutting the trees down to dry. 
“There are lots of ways to get this work done but the work has to get done,” Carroll said.  “If people don’t do the work, the beetles and fires will,” he said.  People usually don’t like the random choices nature makes, Carroll said.
The ISA says mulching is one of the most beneficial things a home owner can do for the health of a tree. Mulch can reduce water loss from the soil, minimize weed competition, and improve soil structure.
Chipping and mulching trees:
·       Helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and mulching saves water.
·       Helps control weeds. A 2- to 4-inch layer of chips will reduce the germination and growth of weeds.
·       Mulch serves as nature’s insulating blanket. Mulch keeps soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
·       Many types of mulch can improve soil aeration, structure (aggregation of soil particles), and drainage over time.
·       Mulches can improve soil fertility.
·       A layer of mulch can inhibit certain plant diseases.
·       Composted wood chips can make good mulch, especially when they contain a blend of leaves, bark, and wood as occurs in the open forest. Fresh wood chips also may be used around established trees and shrubs like the forest of pines left after thinning.
·       For well-drained sites including the Black Hills National Forest, apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch. If there are drainage problems, a thinner layer should be used. Avoid placing mulch against the tree trunks. Place mulch out to the tree’s drip line or beyond.  Big chippers used in thinning spread the chips far and wide across the forest floor.

Frank Carroll: Burning slash piles to reduce fires, mountain pine beetles

Freezing temperatures were no match for slash burners Frank Carroll and son-in-law Brian Brennan recently near Custer, SD.  The pair burned 491 slash piles and seven machine piles over 9 days and significantly increased fire and beetle protection at Apple Valley Ranch on the Flynn Creek Road.


Burning slash piles on the Flynn Creek Road.  Burners Frank Carroll and Brian Brennan used a propane torch to light every third pile over three days to reduce heat in a still heavily forested area on private land.

Burning slash piles on the Flynn Creek Road. Burners Frank Carroll and Brian Brennan used a propane torch to light every third pile over three days to reduce heat in a still heavily forested area on private land.


Rapid City Journal: Mary Garrigan: Bark Beetle Blues hits Custer, SD

Karl Swensson is turning blue wood into brilliant wood.

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Karl Svensson’s blue wood regalia, boxes, homes, cabinetry, and assorted post and beam dream construction is in high demand and growing at a pace at least equal to the bark beetle infestation.

January 18, 2013 6:30 am  •  Mary Garrigan Journal staff

If life gives you mountain pine beetles, make Bark Beetle Blues art.

That’s what the community of Custer is doing in the face of a bark beetle infestation that is turning large swaths of its surrounding forest an ugly reddish brown while loggers remove tens of thousands of trees in a bid to stop the menace.

The tree-killing scourge has drastically altered some of Custer’s scenic views and left residents wondering how to deal with their frustration, as well as the changing face of the Black Hills forest, in a positive way.

In response, the newly formed Bark Beetle Blues steering committee along with the Custer Arts Council will host a song-filled Bug Crawl celebration from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at three venues. That event will be followed by three more community-wide events — at the spring, summer and autumn equinoxes — to mark the emergence, flight and feasts of the pine beetles’ lifespan.

The year of ”mourning” concludes with a Pine Beetle Blues Wake that will  — weather and fire restrictions permitting — include a festive burning of a large wooden beetle in effigy.

Linde Manlove has lived in the forest outside Custer for 30 years. Like a lot of Black Hills residents, Manlove says she is “challenged” by the bark beetle and coping with the changes it has brought to the landscape she knows and loves.

As a patron of the arts who enjoyed the Fort Collins, Colo., public art installation by Tim Upham that marks the devastation of the bark beetle in Colorado, Manlove wondered how Custer might commemorate this time in the history of its forest, too. She gathered some of her fellow residents last summer for a conversation about how to use music, art or poetry to help the community grieve its changing forest and have fun in the process.

“We decided to bring all these concepts together — the community, change, the forest, the arts — and what that would look like,” she said.

Songwriter Hank Fridell is one of about a dozen area musicians who will perform at Saturday’s Bug Crawl, many of them singing their original lyrics for the event. His “They’re a Bad Bad Beetle” is accompanied by the banjo in a Chicago blues style and includes verses like this:

“We’re cuttin’ and we’re sprayin’

The beetles are on the attack

Trees are dyin’, people sighin’

I want my forest back.”

In addition to an open-microphone session, Color My Beetle coloring sheets and a place to post limericks and messages to the beetles, there will be products made from the “blue” wood of beetle-infested trees at the Bug Crawl. Lumber harvested from bug trees carries a distinctive stain that can range in color from light blue to grayish black.

Custer carpenter Karl Svensson has been making the best of a bad situation, using blue wood in the post-and-beam barns and homes that he’s been building in the region for about three years now. He thinks the unique, distinctive stain is attractive and hopes the Bark Beetle Blues events will help convince others to see it that way, too.

Read more….

Rapid City Journal: FRANK CARROLL: Historian loved stories about Hills


Luschei Dad0001

Martin Luschei’s Dad, a school teacher in Oelrichs, SD, built the family cabin in Custer State Park in 1936 and died shortly after completing construction.  Martin became an avid South Dakota historian though he spent his career in other places, principally in California, as a professor of English.  Martin wrote The Black Hills and the Indians: A Haven of Our Hopes published by Niobrara Press.  Martin and Watson Parker were close friends and fellow historians of our storied state.  Martin introduced me and Audrey to Wat and we were privileged to spend several wonderful afternoons in the company of that great man.  My column in the Rapid City Journal January 15 was about the Wat I knew.

January 15, 2013 6:30 am  •  Frank Carroll Journal columnist

My old friend, Watson Parker, introduced to me by Black Hills author Martin Luschei, is now a notation in the history books he so lovingly wrote over more than 60 years.

His dad wanted him to major in tourism management and run the family operations in Palmer Gulch. ”Wat” tried his hand at it but didn’t like business, so he did what nobody wanted him to do: He went to Oklahoma and got a doctorate in the history of the Old West. In those days, studying history was proper for a young academic but inquiries into the history of gunfighters and cow punchers and Lakota warriors was not.

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Rapid City Journal: Frank Carroll: Shoot’em up


Recently, we gathered every weapon we possess that was directly linked to World War II and went out to a lonely stretch of country. We set up a stand and a bunch of targets.

My favorite targets are cans or maybe plastic zombies. Aluminum cans don’t blow sky high like tin cans used to, especially when you hit them with the powerful Garand M-1 30.30 standard military round. The bullet passes right through, often without knocking the can down. Aluminum cans are a miracle of industrial production and definitely weren’t part of the World War II scene but, hey, we use what we have.

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Rapid City Journal: Frank Carroll: Opinion: Remember friends, keep them close

My New Year’s Day opinion column in the Rapid City Journal was about my friend, Rodger Zanotto, who is dying of ALS.

It’s the beginning of a new year early in a new century. Generations are rising and falling in the eternal give and take of life and death.

There are days when I wake up and wonder what it’s all about. What is life and the purpose of life? Why are we here? What does it all mean?

I live life hour by hour in a continuum that makes perfect sense some days and doesn’t make a lick of sense on others. I have envied my friends who seem to take life on in the moment, hour by hour, day after day.

I have acted with great purpose and to great effect, often for good, sometimes not. Along the way I learned that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it’s not just physics.

When I do things contrary to good order and outside the scope of my talents and capabilities things can go awry. When I act with firm purpose guided by moral imperatives and faith in human beings good things happen, or at least they seem good to those I help in whatever small way.

I have a strong belief in eternal life and eternal progression, but I do not always discern the purpose or the reasons for things that happen. In my life I have known many people and most of them were good. I learned from all of them. I worked for and with many people and I do today. I learn something with every new sunrise. Just keep getting up and showing up.

A few days ago I got word that one of the bright spirits of my life is dying of ALS. Apparently, there are several ways ALS affects victims and none of them are good. This man has the form that attacks the throat and the lungs first, then moves on to the other muscles.

It’s ironic and sad because my friend is a magnificent story teller, a weaver of words, an artist of spoken communication. I spent seven years in a small office with him, often 10 hours a day, six or seven days a week. I came to know him in a way few people ever do. We overheard each other’s lives, including things too intimate to ever reveal. A level of understanding developed between us that became unspoken. A look or a raised eyebrow or a sly grin was enough to set in motion events that seemed practiced and planned.

He did a tour in the Air Force in Vietnam and was wounded when a high pressure fuel tank blew up. He came home, went to school, settled down and had a raucous life punctuated with tales too tall to tell, most of which will never surface except in the bright halls of my memory. Laughter. Steady leadership. Anger. And especially love.

I don’t think Rodger will make it through 2013, and that’s OK. Robbed of his voice he communicates about basic needs on an iPad. It could never be the same, and that’s OK.

We will all suffer catastrophic systems failures someday, sooner or later. If I have a New Year’s resolution it is to resolve to remember my friends, to keep them close, and to honor them in life and to remember them ever after.

Medicine Mountain Scout Ranch: The first trees come down in a bid to save the forest


Lowell Swedland and Darren Bouta [Boo-TAY] watch as Cody Barrington drops the first trees of a project designed to stop the mountain pine beetle attacks at Medicine Mountain Scout Ranch (MMSR) near Custer, SD.  Mike McGinnis, MMSR BSA Scout executive, Sam Bice, vice president of property, and Frank Carroll, MMSR forestry consultant, are working with Mystic District Ranger Ruth Esperance and Custer logger Lowell Swedland to take out beetle killed trees, thin the forest to a 60 basal area, and remove invading spruce and pines from aspen groves in the MMSR.  The project will be complete by March and is expected to greatly improve forest health at the Ranch.