South Dakota nets US$3M in federal grants to address fire, forest health threats of dead and dying bark beetle-infested trees

GOLDEN, Colorado , September 6, 2011 () – Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the U.S. Forest Service today announced $3 million in cooperative federal grants for community assistance, bark beetle, and forest health needs in South Dakota.

The grants complement Gov. Daugaard's recently announced Black Hills Forest Initiative, which includes a commitment of $1 million annually in state funds for the next three years to implement bark beetle control efforts. The additional federal funding will help address the significant fire and forest health threats arising from dead and dying bark beetle‐infested trees across South Dakota.

“To beat the beetles, we need to work together,” Gov. Daugaard said. “The Forest Service has stepped up with these new grants, which together with state funds, will make a difference in controlling this epidemic.”

"Human health and safety remain the Forest Service's highest priorities when it comes to dealing with beetle‐killed trees," said Jerome Thomas, Acting Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. “A majority of these funds will help the Forest Service and state and local land owners mitigate the health and safety concerns by removing hazardous, beetle killed trees that threaten life and property.”

The Forest Service is committed to continue working in coordination with the State to address issues of mutual interest, Thomas said.

“The award of these grants is timely and exciting news for the forest and the surrounding communities. This will boost our collaboration with the state agencies as we work together to improve forest health and resilience, mitigate safety hazards and reduce the potential for wildfire,” said Craig Bobzien, Forest Supervisor for the Black Hills National Forest.

The bark beetle infestation has spread significantly in the Rocky Mountain Region. Most current efforts are focused on removing the safety hazards and reducing the fire potential that beetle-killed trees present.

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