- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

CUSTER, S.D. (AP) - State and federal officials say the mountain pine beetle epidemic is slowing but still continuing in the Black Hills.

The U.S. Forest Service and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture this week released the results of its annual aerial forest health survey on the Black Hills National Forest.

The pine beetle has affected approximately 447,000 acres in the Black Hills since the outbreak began in 1996. Much like in 2014, official says between 16,000 and 17,000 acres were affected last year.

South Dakota State Forester Greg Josten says the pine beetle epidemic is waning but it isn’t over yet.

Survey results show an overall decrease in tree mortality across the forest, but also reveal several areas of significant beetle activity.

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