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Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture

Agriculture is the life-blood of South Dakota. It is our state’s #1 industry and the second leading industry in western South Dakota. For the farmers and ranchers who work the land, it is more than a job; it is a career and a way of life. Although the way things are done has changed, agriculture remains the common thread of linking the citizens, businesses, and communities of our area.

Rural Pennington County is home to nearly 600 working farms, making up over 1 million acres of farm land and utilizing more than 222,000 acres of cropland. The average farm size in this area is approximately 1,800 acres. Western South Dakota’s top harvested crop is winter wheat. Livestock production in western South Dakota is in vast abundance. Beef cattle, sheep and bison are western South Dakota’s top three products. South Dakota is ranked 1st in the nation for bison production and 16th in the nation for beef cattle production.

Natural Resources

The Black Hills are an emerald green oasis towering above the endless sea of high-plains prairie that surrounds them. Ponderosa pines predominately occupy these forests, although South Dakota’s State Tree, the Black Hills Spruce, along with the Trembling Aspen, Paper Birch and other bottomland hardwood trees are present on most sites. Elevations reach as high as 7,300 feet, and while the geography and terrain is tremendously varied, it is undeniably breathtaking. Wildlife is diverse and plentiful, ranging from impressive trout fisheries to big game species like elk, bison, whitetail and mule deer, and bighorn sheep. In many ways, the Black Hills are a mixing ground of east and west, of mountains and plains, and of moist and arid climates.

The Black Hills are home to ten working sawmills which manufacture a variety of lumber products, plus nine secondary manufacturers which produce particleboard, posts and poles, shavings, wood pellets, bark, and compost. The Black Hills Forest Industry employs nearly 1,500 people.

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