After 15 months of planning, forestry experts in the Black Hills have revealed a new plan of attack on the Mountain Pine Beetle.
Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien unveiled Monday the Alternative C (with modifications) Pine Beetle Response Project. The $70 million, 5-7 year plan consists of the following main components:
- landscaping of 122,000 acres
- tools to help spray, thin, chunk and chop 248,000 acres
- 50 miles of new road construction
- treatment of wildlife at Spearfish Canyon
- more legal flexibility
Although the beetles are swift moving, Bobzien says he’s confident the project will work because it allows The Forest Service to use science to move in front of the beetle flight.
“This will enable us to be a lot more flexible with this,” Bobzien said. We’ll be able to increase our capacity to treat more acres than we previously had, however, we will still be limited by the areas and the budget we receive to be able to implement these treatments.”
Forestry Expert Frank Carroll says with this new decision, The Forest Service can work in areas it couldn’t before. But he says limited funding from Congress could continue to pose a problem.
“The beetles are eating about 50,000 acres a year, Carroll said. “The Forest Service is able to treat about 30,000 acres a year and when you do the math natural processes are still gonna prevail across much of the forest.”
Pine beetles have infested 405,000 acres or about 1/3 of the national forest. Under Alternative C, The Forest Service will have the capacity to treat 25,000-30,000 acres a year.