Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today announced that the U.S. Forest Service received additional funding to help combat the damage caused by pine beetles in the Black Hills National Forest. The funding is part of the $40 million the Department of Agriculture is committing to the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, which has seen millions of acres damaged by the beetles.
“Today’s action by the Forest Service is a crucial step in ensuring that the beetle infestation in the Black Hills is contained,” Johnson said. “The Black Hills are an important part of our state’s culture and economy, and these funds will allow the forest service to attack the outbreak without sacrificing other important forest priorities.”
In November, Johnson joined his colleagues to push Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide additional funds for the region. Johnson and other Senators stressed the ramifications of the infestation, including the diminishing of wildlife habitat and the potential increase in fires.
According to the Forest Service, the insect infestations have dramatically increased in South Dakota near Beaver Park, Deerfield Reservoir, Bugtown Gulch, Upper Spring Creek, Bear Mountain, Medicine Mountain Boy Scout Camp, Hill City, Custer Peak, Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, Black Elk Wilderness, Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. Over the last 10 years, pine beetles have affected 370,000 of the Black Hills Nationals Forest’s 1.5 million acres.