U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today attended a Senate Energy Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forest and Mining hearing that addressed 20 public lands bills, including two bipartisan bills Johnson has cosponsored--the Black Hills Cemetery Act (S. 447) and the Good Neighbor Forestry Act (S. 327).
"I am glad I had the opportunity to discuss these two bills that are so important to the Black Hills region," said Johnson. "The Black Hills Cemetery Act would transfer nine historic cemeteries to the local communities that have been maintaining and caring for them. And the Good Neighbor Forestry Act would allow the Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements with State foresters to work on restoration projects on federal lands; the Black Hills provide a perfect example of the need for cooperation among all levels of government to address major forest health challenges like the pine beetle. These partnerships will help increase efficiency and make our federal dollars go further in addressing the pine beetle problem."
Earlier this year, Johnson joined Senator Thune (R-SD) in introducing the Black Hills Cemetery Act. The bill requires the Secretary of Agriculture to convey nine cemeteries located in the Black Hills National Forest to local communities or caretaking entities. Up to two adjacent acres would also be conveyed. The bill impacts nine pioneer-era cemeteries in the Black Hills: Englewood Cemetery, Galena Cemetery, Hayward Cemetery, Mountain Meadows Cemetery, Roubaix Cemetery, Nemo Cemetery, Rockerville Cemetery, Silver City Cemetery, and Cold Springs Cemetery.
Johnson also joined Senator Barrasso's (R-WY) on the reintroduction of the Good Neighbor Forestry Act. This bill provides the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior authority to enter into cooperative agreements with States to undertake certain forest restoration projects on federal lands.
The partnerships created by the Good Neighbor Forestry Act would allow federal agencies to contract with State foresters for activities including treating insect infected trees, hazardous fuels reduction, and restoring or improving overall forest, rangeland and watershed health, including fish and wildlife habitats. The legislation would help promote and coordinate projects that deal with both State and federal lands.