Landowners still struggle to control pine beetle infestation - KOTA Territory News

Landowners still struggle to control pine beetle infestation

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The State of South Dakota invested, and thanks to the Black Hills Forest Initiative there are now fewer pine beetle infected trees in the Black Hills.

But there's still a long way to go and winter may be the best time to act.

"It's bad. If you take a drive through the hills, everywhere you look anymore, you see bug kill. It's out of control right now," said logger Eric Eckholm.

Eckholm cuts down 20–40 infested beetle trees a day, as part of his work with the state's 50–percent cost sharing tree removal program.

"Landowners pay loggers to do work, the governor's money goes to reimburse people for money they spent. It's directly helping people on the ground," said Frank Carroll, Forestry consultant.

"Our department of agriculture's investment of $6 million to fight the mountain pine beetle is paying off already, as we have slowed the spread of this epidemic.  State crews, inmates, and contractors have removed more than 100,000 pine beetle-infested trees," said Governor Dennis Daugaard during the 2013 State of the State address.

While it costs between $18-$50 dollars to tear down and cut up a single tree, experts say more money needs to be spent on prevention.

"More and more we're just working in the morgue, with dead trees. it's very important that some of this money become available to save trees by spray living trees. That's the only effective method in keeping trees alive," said Carroll.

Forestry experts say very little of the department of agriculture's $6 million dollars has gone to tree spraying.

In Rapid City, $185,000 was spent on removing trees and thinning forest lands in 2012.

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