SD, WY congressional delegations express concern over timber sale reduction

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 6:36 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The U.S. Forest Service wants to scale back timber sales programs in our area. Members of Congress from South Dakota and Wyoming are expressing their concerns.

The two delegations sent a letter lead by South Dakota Senator John Thune to U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen to encourage better cooperation between the forest service, local advisory boards, and stakeholders who would be impacted by a potential rollback of timber sale programs.

South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds said that a perfect compromise in forest management may be hard to find. But adds that,

“We need one that would actually allow the different organizations to survive, and second of all that the forest, and this is of primary importance, that the forest remains healthy.”

South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson agrees and said that the sustainability of the forest is an important factor.

“We want to keep a sustainable forest; we don’t want to take more wood out of that forest than is growing on a sustainable basis,” Johnson said. We also want to protect the timber industry that is out there. We want that to be sustainable as well.”

The authors of the letter praised the Black Hills National Forest for its management practices. The congressional delegates went on to say the practices are successful in fighting things like wildfires and the mountain pine beetle infestations.

Ben Wudtke, executive director of the Black Hills Forest Resource Association, said that he’s afraid these reductions would undermine those management tactics.

“The Black Hills National Forest is far and away, the largest landowner, and while it does take all the lands to support the forest products industry and make a difference in forest health, they are the largest landowner, and a lot of our success depends on their success.”

Wudtke says more can be done to protect the Forest, especially when local organizations work with the government.

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