Agriculture is the life-blood of South Dakota. It is our state’s No. 1 industry, as well as the No. 2 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 agriculture’s methods have changed, agriculture remains the common thread linking the citizens, businesses and communities of our area.
The rural Rapid City area is home to more than 650 working farms, making up 1,185,055 acres of agricultural land and producing more than 280,000 acres in cropland. The average farm size in this area is approximately 1,400 acres. Western South Dakota’s top harvested crop is wheat.
Livestock production in Western South Dakota is in vast abundance. The top three livestock products being beef cattle, sheep and bison.
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 Apsen, Paper Birch and other bottomland hardwood trees are present on most sites. Elevations reach as high as 7300 feet, and while the geography and terrain is tremendously varied, it is variably breathtaking. Wildlife is diverse and abundant, 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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