Custer National Forest
The Custer National Forest is the most ecologically diverse forest in the Northern Region, reaching from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness near Red Lodge, Montana, to the grasslands of South Dakota. Out of its 1.3 million acres, 345,599 acres of the forest are designated Wilderness Areas.
The Custer's diverse lands provide habitat for mountain goats, big horn sheep, black bear, cougar, and one of the largest populations of Merlins in North America. The forest is well known for excellent lake and stream fishing and spectacular views of the Beartooth Mountains.
What We Are Doing
In 2002, 65,551 acres of the Custer National Forest were burned by wildfire. Seventy percent of the area burned was a re-burn of acres damaged by fire in 1988. More than half of the landscape burned at high intensity, greatly reducing the likelihood of natural regeneration.
As a result of these wildfires, forested habitat has been reduced by 69% on this landscape, and additional fires in recent years have added to the desperate need for trees. To help speed recovery of the Custer National Forest, we are planting 257,650 ponderosa pine seedlings in damaged areas where they will help restore critical wildlife habitat and beauty to this diverse area.