Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) has learned that the Black Hills National Forest will receive $1.5 million for additional timber harvest this year. Thune and other Rocky Mountain Region members of Congress sent a letter on October 29, 2013, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging an increased investment in the Rocky Mountain Region’s timber program to address the ongoing mountain pine beetle damage. The letter was sent due to short falls by the National Forest management program in meeting the need for hazardous fuels reduction and forest restoration.
“I am pleased the Forest Service recognized the capability of the timber industry in the Black Hills and the importance of aggressive timber harvest and thinning in fighting the mountain pine beetle infestation by reallocating these additional funds”, said Thune. “The timber industry is important to the Black Hills Region and supports hundreds of local jobs. In addition, we are fortunate it has the capacity to not only harvest the additional timber these funds allow, but to also do so in coordination with effective mountain pine beetle control efforts.”
The additional funds are a distribution of fire borrowing repayment funds and were divided up among five forests in the Rocky Mountain Region as follows:
Bighorn, $200,000, 2.5 millions of board feet of timber (mmbf)
Black Hills, $1,500,000, 15 mmbf
Med Bow Routt, $210,000, 2.1 mmbf
Rio Grande, $414,000, 4.6 mmbf
Shoshone, $308,400, 2.3 mmbf
Tom Troxel, Black Hills Forest Resource Association, commented, "These additional funds will allow the Black Hills National Forest to implement additional forest management projects that will help reduce the spread of mountain pine beetles and hazardous fuels, while moving the Forest closer to their optimal program level."One of the criteria for this funding was the ability to sell the additional volume within the first six months of Fiscal Year 2014. The regions submitted proposals and the Forest Service Headquarters made the decision regarding which projects to fund.