Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today applauded the announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects to commit $2 million to the Black Hills National Forest to fight the effects of the pine beetle infestation. Last year, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced he would be reallocating $40 million to fight the effects of pine beetle infestation in 17 national forests after Senator Thune and a bi-partisan group of seven other Senators sent a letter requesting additional resources to fight the widespread bark beetle infestation. After Secretary Vilsack announced funding to fight the pine beetles, Senator Thune sent him a letter outlining the unique needs of the Black Hills National Forest.

"This will come as very welcome news to those who have been working hard to protect the Black Hills," said Thune. "This infestation is having a dramatic effect on forests in the region and action needs to be taken before the situation deteriorates further. This infestation is leaving forests and the surrounding areas vulnerable to fire and watershed degradation. The long term impact of not addressing this situation could be detrimental to the forest and the wildlife in the forest, as well as reduce recreation activities and reduce water quality and quantity in the region."

Senator Thune is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees national forests. In July of last year, Senator Thune, a member of the Senate Agriculture Forestry Subcommittee, outlined a comprehensive pine beetle management program which focuses on accelerating and expanding effective forest management practices, creating a market for woody biomass material removed from federal forests, and reforming the U.S. Forest Service's mechanism for funding forest management and fire response activities.