By Alexandra Montgomery
The pine beetle projects in the hills have been successful, but there's more to be done.
That was a main message at Thursday's pine beetle meeting at Black Hills National Forest Supervisor's Office in Custer.
Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) brought U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell into South Dakota to examine the beetle devastation.
Afterwards Noem and Tidwell met with local business owners and industry leaders to discuss the damage and what's to be done to move forward.
Noem says one program – The Mountain Pine Beetle Response – is one of a kind. "This program is going to allow for the treatment of 200,480 acres at a time. It's going to let us identify and deal with high risk acres of the Black Hills and to really do what we can to contain the infestation that we have," said Noem.
Tidell says the work that's been done so far to the pine beetles has been effective. "Because of the work that's getting done, it's making a difference. It's not only making these forests more resilient, it's making these forests safer. It's safer for our firefighters, it's safer for our communities," said Tidwell.
One problem the U.S. Forest Service is facing when it comes to fighting the beetle infestation is a $2 million dollar cut in funding for 2014.