Registration for 21st annual Mickelson Trail Trek opening soon

 Registration is opening at 8 a.m. MT on Dec. 13 for the 21st Annual Mickelson Trail Trek. Bicyclists can sign up online at mickelsontrail.com.

South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks officials encourage bicyclists to register early to ensure spots in the Trek, which will be held Sept. 14-16, 2018. The ride is limited to 600 participants.

The annual supported ride highlights the George S. Mickelson Trail as it winds through the heart of the Black Hills, from Edgemont to Lead/Deadwood. More bicyclists are drawn to the Trek each year. The ride is open to everyone 14-years-old or older.

Riders on the Trail Trek will cover the entire 109 miles of the trail over three days, from Friday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.

Registration before June 1 with merchandise is $200, without merchandise $170. Registration after June 1 is $200, but merchandise is not available. The registration fee for the three-day ride includes a trail pass, shuttle service, refreshments, one meal and snacks during each day's ride. Riders are responsible for accommodations and mechanical support.

Pre-registration is required and may be completed online by visiting mickelsontrail.com and following the "Trail Trek" link. The registration cutoff is Sept. 1, 2018. For more information on the Mickelson Trail or the three-day Mickelson Trail Trek, visit mickelsontrail.com or contact the Black Hills Trails office at 605.584.3896.

Seasonal closures go into effect Dec. 15

The beginning of winter recreation on the Black Hills National Forest is Dev. 15 as Forest officials open snowmobile, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails in the Black Hills area and close seasonal gates and recreation sites that do not remain open through the winter.

Gates are closed to provide a seasonal refuge for wildlife, protect road surfaces and other resources, and provide for public safety as some of the roads are converted into part of the snowmobile trail.

Seasonal closures also occur at many of the recreation sites including some campgrounds and picnic areas. Click here to see a list of campground sites that remain open in the offseason. Most restroom facilities and trash collection are closed for the season.

As a safety reminder, use extreme caution when driving on forest system roads as the road ahead may become impassable or hazardous due to ice and snow cover. National Forest System roads are not plowed or maintained during the winter.

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Seasonal recreation sites and roads typically reopen mid-May, weather depending.

For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills, follow the Forest on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blackhillsnf or Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlackHillsNF

Elk Capture Operation at Wind Cave on Friday

This elk capture operation is a continuation of a research study begun last year to determine the prevalence rate of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) in the park’s elk herd. Forty elk are expected to be captured and collared using nets deployed from a helicopter.

 As with previous elk capture operations, all animal handling will take place in the field, making this aspect of the operation difficult to photograph. This operation is closed to the public.

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