Sunday, July 5, 2009

US Forest Service in race against beetles

The Rapid City Journal (South Dakota): The U.S. Forest Service says it’s holding its own in the war on the mountain pine beetle epidemic in the Black Hills, although some county officials say the feds are not doing enough and some environmentalists doubt that any efforts will stem the beetles’ spread.

Tens of thousands of acres are being treated this summer on the Black Hills National Forest and tens of thousands of acres are in line to be cut or burned starting next year in the battle against the pine beetles, which have created big brown swatches in the forest from the Bearlodge Ranger District in Wyoming to the southern Black Hills.

Just last week, Northern Hills District Ranger Rhonda O’Byrne signed off on the Telegraph project, a major effort to thin the forest by cutting or burning trees to try to stem the beetle outbreak in southern Lawrence County,

In the next few weeks, Mystic District Ranger Bob Thompson will decide on the Slate Castle project to cut and burn trees northwest of Hill City, also in an effort to slow down pine beetles as well as to reduce fuel for potential wildfires. Thompson said his district has adequate resources to wage the war. “I think we’re holding our own.”

The Black Hills National Forest has taken an aggressive approach to the pine beetle outbreak, deputy forest supervisor Dennis Jaeger said. “The infestation is at epidemic levels,” he said. “We’ve always had bugs on the forest. But it’s been a long time since we’ve had this big of an infestation.”…

The Black Hills, Mount Rushmore National Park, shot by Tabun1015, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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