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Preserving The Forest Throughout Beetle Battle

November 4, 2012, 5:37 PM by Derek Olson

Preserving The Forest Throughout Beetle Battle

The fight against Mountain Pine Beetles in the Black Hills has included logging and cut and chunk operations. Now, agricultural experts are meeting with foresters, logging contractors and land owners in Spearfish to discuss how the work can be done without causing even more damage to the forest.

People in the Black Hills have been pushing back against swarms of Mountain Pine Beetles for much of the last decade.

"The success that we've had in Custer State Park has been tremendous.  And we know we can have big differences where we put the resources to work to make that difference," certified forester Bill Coburn said.

But with much of the work involving heavy equipment going off the beaten path, pine beetles aren't the only thing threatening the forest.

"We're doing a lot more harvesting right now because of the mountain pine beetle and we want to make sure that the land and the streams are protected during those processes," SDSU Extension Forestry Specialist John Ball said.

Land owners and foresters are learning about the best management practices that will help them do their jobs while protecting the overall health of the forest.

"One of the things that we often forget about in the Black Hills is that we have more than 1,300 miles of streams, 14 major lakes and reservoirs and we want to make sure that they are protected during any processes," Ball said.

A hot topic at this meeting was making sure roads and trails are built in ways that don't interfere with water drainage.  Preserving healthy topsoil is another priority.

They're all important steps that will make sure the forest rebounds once the pine beetle epidemic is over.

"It will be coming to an end and it will be back in 40-years.  But yet, we will still be here and the forest will still be here," Ball said.

"We have to live in the present but we also have to understand that by living in the present we have to protect the future," Coburn said.

Unlike many states, following best management practices is voluntary in South Dakota.  Regardless, Ball says that most people working in the Black Hills and the rest of the state do a good job of sticking to those practices.

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