- Associated Press - Sunday, April 16, 2017

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Though the 20-year mountain pine beetle epidemic in Black Hills National Forest in western South Dakota has ended, U.S. Forest Service officials plan to continue fighting against the tree-killing insects.

The Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/2nV6qAg) reported that a new effort has begun called the Black Hills Resilient Landscapes Project. If the project is approved, forest managers will spend the next decade improving forest conditions by removing dead trees, igniting controlled burns and churning patches of soil to encourage new tree growth. Another major focus is adding a variety of tree types to the forest so prevent the spread of the beetles.

“We’re really investing in the long-term health and resiliency of the forest,” said project manager Anne Davy.

The beetles have been plaguing the Black Hills since 1997. Almost 450,000 acres have been affected. That is more than one-third of the national forest.

“When the infestation was so bad, we just needed to stop it,” Davy said. “We went out and dealt with that, and now we need to start moving things back in the right direction.”

The beetles are black in color and roughly the size of a grain of rice. They burrow through the bark of pine trees and can cause a tree to turn brown and die within a year with its harmful fungus and hungry larvae.

Millions of federal, state and private dollars have been spent over the past two decades to fight the beetle epidemic.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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