Small sawmills offer an opportunity to utilize wood from trees across South Dakota – creating jobs and wood products, keeping woody biomass out of landfills, and eliminating risk and smoke associated with burning large piles of woody debris. While the majority of South Dakota's forest is in the Black Hills, there are almost 466,000 acres of timberland outside of the Black Hills. In addition, there are almost 1 million acres of trees outside of forests in the state. These lands include wooded draws, windbreaks, and trees within communities. The removal of trees for various reasons creates an opportunity to utilize the wood.
Small sawmills have become increasingly popular among hobbyists who recognize the value of the wood in trees scheduled for removal. The trees might be located in residential areas, shelterbelts, or wooded draws. Hardwoods, such as ash, black walnut, oak, honey locust, maple, elm, and other species can provide valuable wood for making furniture, decorative boxes, and other value added products. The threat of emerald ash borer, and the tree mortality that it will leave in its wake, will provide another opportunity for utilization.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture, Resource Conservation & Forestry Division, with funding support from the US Forest Service, commissioned South Dakota State University Extension to produce a series of workshops, videos, and fact sheets to support small sawmill operations.
The results of the project are explained in the Small Sawmills Report.
The Log Finder website provides an opportunity for operators of small sawmills who are looking for trees to find people that want trees removed.