Sens. Thune and Barrasso introduce legislation to support Black Hills National Forest

Crow Peak Summit

View from Crow Peak Summit (Photo by Black Hills National Forest/USDA Forest Service)

WASHINGTON — On Monday, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso introduced legislation that would provide direction and resources to maintain forest health and forest products infrastructure.

With the Black Hills Forest Protection and Jobs Preservation Act, the legislation would require the U.S. Forest Service to quickly issue National Environmental Policy Act decisions that are necessary to carry out forest management projects.

These projects include thinning of overly dense timber stands in the Black Hills National Forest, which reduces wildlife hazards and risk of future insect infestations.

“Proactive management plays a critical role in keeping our forests healthy,” said Sen. Thune. “It also supports the forest products industry, which generates revenues and supports jobs in rural communities. For more than 100 years, the Black Hills National Forest timber sale program has helped facilitate successful forest management, but I am concerned about the program’s long-term viability if the region loses additional forest products infrastructure.”

The bill would also allocate existing USFS funding to carry out timber production projects on the Black Hills National Forest and neighboring national forests.

While also supporting the regional economy, this would help maintain the timber sale program that plays a critical role in keeping the forest healthy.

“The longstanding partnership between the Forest Service and local sawmills has been key to managing and protecting the Black Hills National Forest,” said Sen. Barrasso. “Our legislation will help ensure this decades-long partnership continues. It will also cut red tape to expedite projects to reduce fire hazards in the Black Hills and help make sure the forest and local economies continue to flourish for decades to come.”

Categories: South Dakota News