Originally, Forest Service officials said the money would not be used directly in South Dakota but would be focused on heavy beetle infestations in Colorado and southern Wyoming.
Thune said he wrote Vilsack outlining what he called the unique needs of the Black Hills National Forest.
“This will come as very welcome news to those who have been working hard to protect the Black Hills,” Thune said in a press release Monday. “This infestation is having a dramatic effect on forests in the region and action needs to be taken before the situation deteriorates further. This infestation is leaving forests and the surrounding areas vulnerable to fire and watershed degradation” [Steve Miller, "Black Hills Gets $2 Million to Fight Pine Beetles," Rapid City Journal, 2010.02.08]
Typical Republican hypocrisy on federal spending. They spend far too much time bashing the government as a simplistic campaign ploy rather than taking the time to calmly explain the vital role government plays in helping us solve problems like the pine beetle infestation.
The pine beetle infestation is a terrible problem of our own making. Climate change expands the beetle's habitat with milder winters. Worse, our forest management practices give the beetles more to eat. As eager reader Larry Kurtz has explained to me, the Black Hills used to have much thinner tree growth. Fires and natural cycles of beetle infestation would clear out the trees, leaving a fair amount of wide open spaces that made it harder for the beetles to smorgasbord-hop from tree to tree. The best way to tackle the beetle is to remove its food—i.e., remove trees, and return the Black Hills to a more natural state with more open spaces.