Most of the money aimed at removing hazard trees
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the U.S. Forest Service last week announced $3 million in cooperative federal grants for community assistance, bark beetle, and forest health needs in South Dakota.
The federal grant awards complement Gov. Daugaard’s recently announced Black Hills Forest Initiative, which includes a commitment of $1 million annually for the next three years to implement bark beetle control efforts. The federal funding is aimed at addressing the significant fire and forest health threats arising from dead and dying bark beetle trees across South Dakota.
“To beat the beetles, we need to work together,” said Gov. Daugaard. “The Forest Service has stepped up with these new grants, which together with state funds, will make a difference in controlling this epidemic.”
“Human health and safety remain the Forest Service’s highest priorities when it comes to dealing with beetle-killed trees,” said Jerome Thomas, Acting Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. A majority of these funds will help the Forest Service and state and local land owners mitigate the health and safety concerns by removing hazardous, beetle killed trees that threaten life and property.
“The Forest Service is committed to continue working in coordination with the State to address issues of mutual interest,” said Thomas.
“The award of these grants is timely and exciting news for the Forest and the surrounding communities. This will boost our collaboration with the state agencies as we work together to improve forest health and resilience, mitigate safety hazards and reduce the potential for wildfire,” said Craig Bobzien, Forest Supervisor for the Black Hills National Forest.
The bark beetle infestation has spread significantly in the Rocky Mountain Region. The majority of today’s efforts are focused on removing the safety hazards and reducing the fire potential that beetle-killed trees present.
South Dakota received four federal grant awards comprised of a hazardous fuels reduction grant of $1 million, a state fire assistance grant of $ 1.4 million, a bark beetle grant of $500 thousand, and a forest health grant of $144 thousand.