Gov. Dennis Daugaard's action plan to combat the mountain pine beetle infestation in the Black Hills has earned a 2012 Innovations Award from the Council for State Governments.
The Governor's Black Hills Forest Initiative was recognized as an outstanding government initiative, one of two winners in the Midwest category. The Innovations Award is given to a state program that exemplifies creativity, effectiveness, newness, transferability and significance.
"When we launched the Black Hills Forest Initiative last year, our goal was to lead by example and take an active role in fighting the beetle epidemic," Gov. Daugaard said. "Earning this recognition is an honor, but the beetle infestation is far from over and there is still a lot of work left."
The Black Hills Forest Initiative is a multi-faceted effort to leverage state, private and federal resources to address the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Gov. Daugaard has pledged $4 million over three years to assist landowners with surveying and marking infested trees on their properties as well as providing a 50 percent cost-share for tree removal.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's Resource Conservation and Forestry Division continues to work with local, county and federal agencies to coordinate suppression activities.
The Black Hills Forest Initiative has resulted in assistance to 709 landowners in the past year, as crews surveyed 115,000 acres and treated more than 215,000 infested trees on state and private land.
"South Dakota received this award from the Council of State Governments, in part, because of the innovative techniques used to treat mountain pine beetles," said Ray Sowers, South Dakota state forester. "Long-time use of progressive treatment techniques on state lands has allowed us to implement an aggressive suppression program on private lands."
The Black Hills Forest Initiative is in its second year, and letters have already been sent to landowners within eleven priority areas scattered within the Black Hills. Landowners are eligible to participate in the marking and surveying cost-share assistance program. For additional information on South Dakota's efforts to combat mountain pine beetles, visit www.beatthebeetles.com
Information on the Council for State Governments Innovations Award is available at http://www.csg.org/programs/InnovationsbyYear.aspx