SD, WY legislators express concerns with USFS plan to reduce timber sale program in the Black Hills

WASHINGTON — Legislators from South Dakota and Wyoming expressing concerns to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the Forest Service’s plan to reduce the timber sale program in the Black Hills National Forest.

Sens. John Thune, John Barrasso, Mike Rounds, and Cynthia Lummis, along with Reps. Dusty Johnson and Liz Cheney, say they’re urging the USFS to maintain the timber sale program in order to keep the forest healthy and support the local economy.

“We urge the Forest Service to immediately use all NEPA authorities available – including the fuel and fire break categorical exclusion and emergency actions authority recently passed by Congress – to expedite treatment on the BHNF in fiscal years 2022 through 2024, while planning additional work in subsequent years,” the delegations wrote. “Also, in light of additional funding recently provided by Congress to the Forest Service for wildfire reduction efforts, we urge the Forest Service to provide funding and staffing resources necessary to be successful in this task.”

The legislators quoted the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy, which states “the need to drastically increase the number of acres treated on our national forests.” They also say the timber sale program in the Black Hills National Forest is the “primary tool” for successfully managing the forest, insect epidemics, and wildfires.

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