May 26, 2024

Conservation District

Mission: The mission of the Custer County Conservation District is to promote conservation of soil, water, and natural resources for residents and visitors now and in the future.

Department Function: The function of the Conservation District is to take available technical, financial, and educational resources, whatever their source, and focus or coordinate them so they meet the needs of the local land users.

Chairman: Dave Thom
Vice-Chairman: Paul Nettinga
Treasurer: Oonagh Wood
Supervisor: Tamarah Carter
Supervisor: Greg Neugebauer
Advisors: Stephenie Rittberger, Gladwin Paulsen, and Stuart Adrian
District Manager: Mike Baldwin
NRCS District Conservationist: vacant

Important Information & Upcoming Events:

January 18, 2024, Burning Beetle Event “Living in Community in Our Forested Environment”: 

  • As part of the Annual Burning Beetle Event in Custer, the District is co-sponsoring a learning event for newcomers and long-term residents of the Custer and Black Hills area to better understand living in community with our natural environment. Speakers will discuss caring for your forested land, living with fire, understanding our physical environment, and living in the Black Hills. Event will start at 6:30 PM on Thursday, January 18 at the Pine Room, Custer County Courthouse Annex, 447 Crook St. in Custer. A program agenda is available here. Of course don’t miss the burning of the beetle on Saturday, January 20 in Custer. 

New video highlights Custer County Conservation District’s Forest Thinning Program for Improved Forest Resiliency: 

Scholarship available to high school seniors in Custer County: 

  • We are excited to offer a $1,000 scholarship to two qualified applicants in 2024. To qualify, students must be high school seniors who reside in Custer County. Application and additional requirements are available here
  • Additional scholarship opportunities: 
    • South Dakota Association of Conservation District Employees (SDACDE) scholarship:
      • Three $500 scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors in South Dakota. Click here for additional information.
    • Mark Kieffer Scholarship:
      • $1,000 for high school seniors located in Western South Dakota that are going to attend a South Dakota college while pursuing a conservation degree. Application deadline is March 1. Click here for additional information.

2024 Speech contest: 

  • All South Dakota high school students are welcome to compete in the Resource Conservation Speech Contest. The 2024 theme is “Working Grassland, Why Should We Care?”. Scholarships totaling $2,500 will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Participants should contact our office by February so that we can schedule a local contest. Entry form and additional information is available here.

2024 Arbor Day contests: 

  • The annual Arbor Day writing and poster contests will be open again next spring.  
    • Creative writing contest: open to all South Dakota 5th & 6th graders. Cash awards to top three contestants in the state. Entry deadline is March 22. Additional information available here.
    • Poster contest: open to all South Dakota 5th graders. Each school can only submit one poster. The top 12 posters from across the state will be featured in the annual South Dakota Arbor Day Poster Contest Calendar. Cash prizes to top three posters in the state. This year’s theme is “Trees in Television”. Click here for more information. Submission deadline is March 29. 

Thinning cost-share grants available: 

  • Cost-share funding is available for private landowners interested in non-commercial forest thinning and fuels treatment on their property. Application is available here. Contact the office for additional information.  


Trees for sale: 

Recent pine defoliation near Pringle: 

  • An outbreak of pine loopers was documented east of Pringle last summer. The larvae (caterpillars) defoliated ponderosa pines near Beaver Creek Rd and surrounding area. For information on the pine looper, read Dr. John Ball’s article in a recent ‘Tree Pest Alert‘ newsletter (click link, see page 2). 

Calendar of events:

Soil Health and Sustainability Landowner Meeting, June 16, 2023: 

  • The Custer Conservation District partnered with the Pennington Conservation District and NRCS to host a soil health workshop on June 16 in Rapid City. See informational flyer here.  







Contact Information:

25363 US Hwy 385
Custer, SD 57730
(605) 673-5680
Email: [email protected]

Board Meeting Agendas

Board Meeting Minutes


Helpful Links

SD Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)SD Farm Service Agency (FSA)SD Game, Fish and Parks * Black Hills National Forest * Buffalo Gap National Grassland * Wind Cave National Park * Jewel Cave National Monument * Fall River Conservation District * Pennington Conservation District * SD Association of Conservation Districts (SDACD) * National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) * SD Grassland Coalition * SD Soil Health Coalition * SD Agricultural Land TrustSD Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources * SD Department of TransportationSDSU Plant Science DepartmentSDSU Extension Service * SD Wildland Fire * SD Grassland Initiative