Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem announced today that she has extended an invitation to two key members of the Obama administration to visit the Black Hills and other areas in the Mountain West to see pine beetle damage firsthand.

The bipartisan invitation, spearheaded by Noem, was sent in a letter to Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Tom Tidwell and Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley. The letter also asks that Chief Tidwell and Chairwoman Sutley meet with constituents and stakeholders in the affected areas to discuss how the pine beetle is impacting local communities.

"I’ve been fighting since day one to save the Black Hills from the pine beetle," said Rep. Noem. "We’ve made progress and the Mountain Pine Beetle Response Project in the Black Hills is a huge step forward, but we can and we must do more to protect our communities and restore our national forests. I hope Chief Tidwell and Chairwoman Sutley accept our invitation to visit one of our nation’s greatest treasures to see just how devastating the pine beetle has been to our forests and to further discuss potential solutions."

The letter states: "Over the years, millions of acres of pine forests across the country have been destroyed by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. We appreciate the resources that you have dedicated to this emergency situation which has severely impacted forests in the Rocky Mountain Region of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming."

It continues: "Our offices look forward to working with U.S. Forest Service and the White House Council on Environmental Quality so that together we can continue to make strides in addressing the pine beetle epidemic. By touring the forests and talking with stakeholders, we believe we can share the challenges and successes of our forests and enhance cooperation between lawmakers, local communities, and our government agencies."

Reps. Jared Polis (CO-2), Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL), Lee Terry (NE-3), and Cory Gardner (CO-4) have also signed onto this letter.

Full text of the letter is below: 

The Honorable Tom Tidwell
Chief, U.S. Forest Service
Sydney R. Yates Building
201 14th Street SW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20250

The Honorable Nancy Sutley
Chairwoman
Council on Environmental Quality
730 Jackson Place, NW
Washington, DC 20502

Chief Tidwell and Chairwoman Sutley,

Over the years, millions of acres of pine forests across the country have been destroyed by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. We appreciate the resources that you have dedicated to this emergency situation which has severely impacted forests in the Rocky Mountain Region of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The Mountain Pine Beetle Response Project in the Black Hills National Forest is one of the key steps toward restoring our national forests and we appreciate your willingness to use this as a blueprint nationwide.

Because of the urgency of addressing this situation, we invite both of you to come to our states to tour the forests this year to see first-hand the damage caused by the pine beetle and also the work being done to address it. We also invite you to meet with constituents and businesses in our communities to discuss how this has impacted our states.

Our offices look forward to working with U.S. Forest Service and the White House Council on Environmental Quality so that together we can continue to make strides in addressing the pine beetle epidemic. By touring the forests and talking with stakeholders, we believe we can share the challenges and successes of our forests and enhance cooperation between lawmakers, local communities, and our government agencies.

Our offices stand ready to assist you in setting up a tour of a few of our forests that will be convenient for your schedules and to ensure we make the best use of your time.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Rep. Kristi Noem (SD-AL)

Rep. Jared Polis (CO-2)

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL)

Rep. Lee Terry (NE-3)

Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-4)

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