WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In November of last year, Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), and Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting additional funding for the fight against the mountain pine beetle infestation in the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF). Today, the delegation has learned that the U.S. Forest Service has allocated an additional $1 million to the BHNF to continue thinning and logging efforts to fight the devastation being caused by the mountain pine beetle. This increase brings the current funding level much closer to the BHNF's Fiscal Year 2012 funding request than the allocation issued at the beginning of the current Fiscal Year.
"This additional funding will provide a meaningful boost in the ongoing fight against the pine beetle epidemic in the Black Hills," said Johnson. "Responsible and targeted thinning projects have helped to slow the spread of pine beetles and enhance forest health. It's crucial that we're putting sufficient resources behind these efforts."
"This is another positive step in our collective fight against the mountain pine beetle in the Black Hills National Forest," said Thune. "I will continue to work with state and local, as well as representatives of the Rocky Mountain Region of the Forest Service to do all we can to halt the devastation that is destroying thousands of acres of pine beetle infested forest in the Black Hills. I continue to reiterate to Secretary Vilsack the importance of funding for the Black Hills and was pleased that the Senate Ag Committee-passed Farm Bill included language from a bill I introduced in March that would require the USDA Secretary to designate the Black Hills National Forest as a special treatment area upon the request of the Governor to further address the declining health of the forest."
"South Dakota just got more ammunition to battle the pine beetle that is devastating the Black Hills," said Noem. "Since day one in Congress, I have made ensuring we have the resources and flexibility to most effectively wage this fight a top priority. I'm also continuing to push legislation I introduced with Senator Thune to ensure the most effective mitigation practices can be implemented sooner. The Black Hills are a treasure, and I'm going to keep on fighting to ensure we have every resource possible to beat the pine beetle."
The delegation letter from November is attached.