RAPID CITY, SD -
The pine beetle battle in Rapid City is underway.
Since January crews have been in busy inspecting properties across the city. So far, the pests have turned up on 43-percent of the land they've surveyed. 557 trees are now marked for removal.
Since the fight against pine beetles moved into the Rapid City limits, parks and rec workers have had plenty to keep them busy.
"We have up to four different crews with two people each out on properties up to five days a week, Monday through Friday, right now," Rapid City Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Cole said.
The city has sent letters to approximately 2,800 private property owners, asking for permission to check their land for the parasitic insect and hopes to inspect all of them by April.
"If we allow trees with infestations to go on and have another flight next year, it almost doubles or triples the number of trees we'll have next year and that's why it's so important to call us now," Cole said.
It's a program that many homeowners support.
"We figured there were probably beetles up in this area, so I was glad to see when they came around. They only found one on my property, so I was glad for that," homeowner Greg Pogany said.
And although home owners like Pogany say that, in a perfect world, they would have zero bug trees on their property, knowing the scope of the problem and having a plan of action gives them real peace of mind.
Now they just hope that their neighbors call in as well, so they don't have the same problem next year.
"Yeah, it's kind of like the one guy in the whole neighborhood that has dandilions in his yard. I'm glad to see that we're all working together to cut this before it gets really bad," Pogany said.
"If you're a property owner in Rapid City, have pine trees and have not called in to the Pine Beetle Line please do so," Cole said.
The inspections are free. However, if city crews find beetles, the landowner must find a contractor to remove the infested trees.
Homeowners can be reimbursed for 75 percent of the removal cost by the city.
If you would like an inspection, contact the Rapid City Parks and Recreation Dept. at 394-4175 or visit their website
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