Increased mountain pine beetle impact for sawmills - KOTA Territory News

Increased mountain pine beetle impact for sawmills

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Not many get a better look at the mountain pine beetle problem than sawmill workers.

"We're getting logs 12 months out of the year that are affected by the beetles. Every year it's worse," said Rushmore Forest Products Saw Mill plant superintendent Matt Swanson.

"The last five years have really seen it blossom," said Black Hills Forest Resource Association Forest programs manager Ben Wudtke.

As the mountain pine beetle problem continues to escalate in the Black Hills, saw mills are forced to produce more blue stained boards.

"What the pine beetle does to that log is actually turn it blue. That reduces the grade and quality of that board," said Swanson.

The Rushmore Forest Products Saw Mill is near Hill City. Swanson also says the blue boards are structurally sound, but are definitely not a high seller.

"The price of that blue board is somewhere around 40 to 45 percent less. We need to be able to cut enough bright wood in between all the blue logs to keep us going," said Swanson.

The U.S. Forest Service and other agencies are touring sawmills to get a closer look at the process.

"I think it's very important for people, especially those involved with getting square boards out of round logs. These are the folks who really get the landscape management job done in the forest," said Wudtke.

Everyone at the sawmill Friday agreed that the pine beetles are hurting more than just the timber industry.

"The real estate business, people wanting to live out here, but with the trees all dying, it hurts tourism, the whole thing," said Swanson.

Mountain pine beetles have affected more than 400,000 Black Hills National Forest acres.

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