New strategy to combat beetles, wildfires in the Black Hills

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

The Pennington County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to battle wildfires and mountain pine beetles. They join 33rd district State Rep. Dave Johnson, who introduced the resolution. 

As part of the Black Hills Resilient Forest Strategy (BHRFS), agencies from across the state will work to keep the forest floor clean of rotting debris. Removing the fallen timber starves out the beetles and helps lessen fire danger. With the strategy, experts hope to thin out the forest as well.

According to Pennington County Natural Resources Director, Scott Guffey, taking the steps to protect against the mountain pine beetle is important for the Black Hills National Forest.

“History shows that every 20 or 30 years, we'll have another epidemic that comes through,” said Guffey. “It's from a stem of having mature trees and dead stands. We're trying to take steps now to make it that the next epidemic isn't so severe.”

Officials estimate that in the past 20 years, around 450,000 acres have been affected to some degree by mountain pine beetles.

The new forest strategy will also help curb several invasive plant species.

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