Senator John Thune Monday sent a letter to the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Tom Tidwell, calling for the agency to take immediate action to reimburse landowners for the recent grassland fire in Perkins County.
On April 3, 2013, the U.S. Forest Service lost control of a controlled burn that resulted in up to 14,000 acres of damaged pasture and farmland in Perkins County, South Dakota, which has been experiencing prolonged drought conditions. Local landowners and fire crews responded to the blaze, which was fully contained by Sunday, April 7.
"The damage caused by the U.S. Forest Service is inexcusable," said Thune. "It could take years for the burnt pastures and farmland to recover, and in the past, landowners have to wait years before being reimbursed. I am calling on the Forest Service to take immediate action to assess the damage, provide landowners a timely opportunity to apply for reimbursement, and ensure that ranchers are made whole as soon as possible. Additionally, I am asking the Forest Service to review its controlled burn policies during drought conditions to prevent future grassland fires."