South Dakota begins felling 142,000 trees in Custer State Park to fight mountain pine beetle

PIERRE, South Dakota , January 8, 2012 () – More than 30,000 trees have been recently cut down in South Dakota's Custer State Park in a fight against the mountain pine beetle.

State Forester Ray Sowers says workers want to cut down 142,000 infested trees, then cut them into two-foot sections before the beetles leave the trees in late spring.

The process is called "chunking." It kills the beetles and prevents them from infesting new trees when they take flight during the summer.

South Dakota state agencies, private contractors and prison inmates are working on the project. About 62,000 trees have already been marked to be cut down.

The beetles tunnel under the tree bark and introduce a fungus that helps to kill the tree.

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