Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today continued pressing the Administration to do more to combat the pine beetle infestation in the Black Hills National Forest. At a Senate Energy and National Resources hearing examining the U.S. Forest Service’s FY 2013 budget proposal with Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Johnson advocated for more resources to support the beetle response.
“I appreciate the attention and resources the Forest Service has dedicated to this issue, but we need to do more,” Johnson said. “This infestation is a major problem that has implications for forest health, tourism and the Black Hills economy.”
Nearly 400,000 acres in the Black Hills National Forest have been affected by the pine beetle epidemic. Officials are utilizing several different tactics to stop the infestation, including thinning, prescribed burns, spraying and cutting and chunking. Johnson has praised forest managers, the State, counties, and private landowners for coordinated efforts, and stressed the need to provide them with the proper resources to fight the infestation.
Johnson also discussed with Tidwell the timber industry and how commercial thinning is a cost-effective way to treat the infestation. There is a robust timber operation in the Black Hills, with two sawmills in South Dakota and one in Wyoming.
“There are an estimated 1,500 direct jobs and 28 manufacturing businesses throughout the region and $160 million in the sales value of lumber and other wood products. With responsible targets for timber production, we can fight against the infestation and bring more jobs to the Black Hills,” Johnson continued.