Gov. Dennis Daugaard says landowners throughout the Black Hills are showing a strong interest in combatting the region's widespread mountain pine beetle infestation.
The Governor unveiled the Black Hills Forest Initiative in mid-August, and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture's Resource Conservation and Forestry Division is assisting landowners with mountain pine beetle identification and eradication efforts.
"So far, nearly 1,900 landowners have signed up more than 95,000 acres of private land for mountain pine beetle surveying," Gov. Daugaard said. "We can't turn back the clock on this insect epidemic, but we will do everything we can to prevent it from spreading in the future."
As part of the Black Hills Forest Initiative, crews will survey private forestlands and mark mountain pine beetle-infested trees for removal. Currently, 23 trained surveyors are preparing private land for beetle control.
"The beetle epidemic is widespread, but by helping landowners control the problem on their lands, we hope to limit the damage as much as possible," said State Forester Ray Sowers. State and private landowners have worked for a decade to control the spread of the beetles. More than $2 million has been put into those efforts since 2002. The Black Hills Forest Initiative will provide an additional $1 million annually for the next three years as part of a cost-share program with private landowners.
Landowners interested in receiving the free surveying and marking service or participating in the state's cost-share program can contact the South Dakota Department of Agriculture at 605-394-2395.
Participating landowners will receive maps showing the location of infested trees on their property, advice on the best treatment options, and lists of contractors who can help treat infested trees.
For additional information on addressing mountain pine beetles in the Black Hills, visit www.BeattheBeetles.com