Designation of 992,080 acres in South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest under Farm Bill will streamline environmental red tape on treating insect, disease infested areas, says US Rep. Noem, protect area from becoming a 'tinder box'

WASHINGTON , May 21, 2014 (press release) – U.S. Representative Kristi Noem today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for granting the Black Hills National Forest additional tools to combat the pine beetle epidemic. During the 2014 Farm Bill debates, Rep. Noem used her position on the Farm Bill Conference Committee to negotiate for these tools, which are based on language she authored, to be included in the final legislation.

“Foresters must be able to respond as quickly as the pine beetle epidemic is spreading and previous policies stopped that from occurring,” said Rep. Noem. “I’m proud the Farm Bill opened the door for faster action and thank Governor Daugaard for advocating that the Black Hills National Forest be included. We must give those fighting the beetles every tool available to protect the Black Hills from becoming a tinder box.”

The Black Hills National Forest will benefit from a provision originally introduced in the House by Rep. Noem – the National Forest Emergency Response Act (H.R. 1511). More specifically, the legislation included in the 2014 Farm Bill streamlines lengthy environmental red tape on insect and disease infested areas of forests at the request of a state’s Governor. It also includes a categorical exclusion of up to 3,000 acres.

The USDA’s recent announcement revealed that 992,080 acres in the Black Hills National Forest as well as forest areas in 94 other national forests will benefit from the new provisions.

In November 2013, Rep. Noem hosted U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in the Black Hills to show him the damage. While there, he stated that we need to start dealing with thousands of acres rather than hundreds. The Farm Bill provisions that the Black Hills National Forest now has access to allow for that.

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