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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thune Agrees: Spending Govt Money on Pine Beetles Good

More federal money for South Dakota: Uncle Sam is sending us $2 million to fight the pine beetle infestation in the Black Hills. Helping bring home this dirty, deficit-boosting, dependency-inspiring federal money—Republican Senator John Thune:

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.


  1. Good morning, Cory; thanks for the shout-out.

    Great forestry link. I would just add that while open spaces were a feature of the pre-settlement Hills, I am convinced that pine needs to be replaced with other tree species, especially aspen, to sequester the carbon necessary for healthy aquifer recharge.

    One of the effects of pine forests is that light and heat are absorbed rather than reflected; aspen loses its leaves so that snow stays longer and cools weather patterns.

    Clearly, the entire Rocky Mountain Complex has been altered in such a way; partially due to the Great NW Fire of 1910 that changed the way the US addressed wildfire.

    In Steve Miller's piece he mentions that the additional money will probably go to other states; I would actually like to see more money go to private landowners to clear pine and encourage aspen, hazelnut, chokecherry, and oak to rejuvenate the parts of the forest that the Feds have no jurisdiction to manage.

    I think the FS is doing what it can on its 1.2 million acres under current forest policy; the remaining 5.5 million acres that comprise the bioregion describing the "Black Hills" are primarily privately held.

    I have conducted numerous mycology surveys from Lincoln County, Minnesota to Brookings, Moody, Pennington, Lawrence and, Custer Counties in South Dakota to Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Park, Gallatin, and Broadwater Counties in Montana where I am witnessing the destruction whole fungal communities through the introduction of ag chemicals, especially the antibiotics administered to the cattle that graze on forest lands.

    Human antibiotics, too, are inculcating waterways from lagoons near the Continental Divide all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

    I am frightened that that a cascade has begun that will result
    In the ultimate collapse of the very systems that sustain every organism in the continental United States that rely on water to survive.

    Industrial Ag is killing us; if John Thune is a true leader, he will strap on a pair and go after his own patronage.

    The criminal cabal is chaired by Monsanto, Dow, Pfizer and Syngenta.

    It may already be too late.

  2. BTW, Doug Wiken has created a science blog; click on my header for the link.


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