Coalition formed to pressure U.S. Forest Service to treat mountain pine beetle epidemic in South Dakota's Spearfish Canyon
October 10, 2011
– Citizens from South Dakota’s Northern Black Hills community have created a coalition to pressure the U.S. Forest Service to address the threat of the mountain pine beetle in Spearfish Canyon, the Black Hills Pioneer reported Oct. 8.
The Save Spearfish Canyon Coalition hopes the Forest Service will create a strategy to protect the scenic byway while the organization works on identifying and removing infested trees on private lands, keeping the beetle population from exploding, and developing a strategy map for treatment.
Mayor Jerry Krambeck and the entire city council have passed a resolution supporting the coalition.
Timber staff officer with the Northern Hills District Ranger Office in Spearfish Ken Hehr said a large-scale timber sale normally pursued as a prevention measure against the mountain pine beetle has still not be planned for the canyon. Because it is not managed for timber, the canyon does not have federal funding allocated for pine beetle prevention or treatment programs, Hehr said, reported the Black Hills Pioneer.
The Forest Service has begun the process to treat a 1,200-acre area on Spearfish Mountain in the 63,000-acre West Rim Project for the Pathfinder Timber Sale. Although the lengthy government process for the sale is expected to take a year to be completed, Hehr said the process is being accelerated as much as possible as concerns from area residents and wildfire risks are mounting.
Treatments are set to begin by late August or September.
Bill Coburn, a forester with Neiman Timber Co. said a “cut and chunk” onsite treatment might be a better option than the timber sale. As a short-term solution it could control about 80% of the infestation.
The primary source of this article is the Black Hills Pioneer, Spearfish, South Dakota, on Oct. 8, 2011.