The Black Hills forests rise above the surrounding grasslands. Climate of the Black Hills differs from the surrounding plains because of the influence of the increased elevation--increased precipitation and colder temperatures at the higher elevations. Plants species in the Black Hills represent a melting pot of species from the eastern decidious forest, the northern coniferous forest, the western forests, and the grasslands. Ponderosa pine is the most dominant tree and is found throughout the Black Hills.
The Black Hills Experimental Forest is 3,438 acres of ponderosa pin woodland in the heart of the Black Hills National Forest. This area was designated as an Experimental Forest in 1961 to study the dynamics of ponderosa pine ecology, silviculture of pine, understory vegetation, wildlife habitat, and water production. Past and on-going research has expanded our understanding of the ecology of the Black Hills.