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BLACK HILLS PIONEER PINE BEETLE SERIES

October - November 2011

Forest Service ‘optimistic’ about success against pine beetles

B" #$%& '$()*%P*( !lack Hills Pioneer !"#T%&#! %I))* — The .lac2 %ills !ational 8orest faces some serious challenges in terms of combating the mountain pine beetle@ but its managers say there is hope of successB In terms of the beetle epidemic@ 8orest *uperDisor Craig .obFien said that with the Dariety of resources aDailable to us@ we can be optimistic about successfully preDenting the total infestation of the forestB IIJm of the belief — and I will say this is a shared belief among a lot of people who are wor2ing on this — that in the .lac2 %ills@ we haDe the ingredients in place to haDe the best chance of being successful in haDing a healthy forest@ of really any place that I 2now of in the Kest thatJs being threatened right now@L .obFien saidB To achieDe that success@ the 8orest *erDice has formulated a strategy for responding to the beetles@ but it will also ta2e cooperation with goDernments@ landowners and other entities across the forestB The Kestern .ar2 .eetle *trategy@ published by the 8orest *erDice in Muly@ identifies three main IprongsL or considerations in treating for the beetlesN human safety@ forest recoDery after a deDastating infestation@ and long-term forest resiliency through thinning and treatment methodsB .obFien said the 8orest *erDice treats for safety first@ in areas li2e campgrounds@ trailheads@ roads and the wildlandOurban interface where public communities meet forestlandB %e added@ though@ that many of those areas arenJt facing serious public safety threats right nowB IP*afetyQ is our first priority@ but itJs the smallest part of what we do on the .lac2 %ills@L .obFien saidB IKe donJt haDe many areas li2e that because weJDe been able to manage so much of the forest in adDance of the beetlesB IKe are really wor2ing to loo2 at the areas that are both most at ris2 and where the public resource Dalues are the highest — said differently@ where weJd haDe the greatest conseRuence if we didnJt ta2e any actionBL *trategically@ .obFien said the most effectiDe place to be — and where the 8orest *erDice is trying to be and remain — is in the Ileading edgeL Fone@ which is the area beetles are approaching but haDe not yet reachedB *trengthening the forest in those areas will presumably preDent the beetles from eStending any farther@ protecting the forest from further infestationB .ut the cumbersome regulations by which the 8orest *erDice must abide sometimes 2eep it from getting to leading edge Fones before the beetles do@ and .obFien said some of the leading edge Fones that were identified earlier are filling up with bug-hit trees pretty Ruic2lyB Telayed action is nothing new for the 8orest *erDice@ which is hampered by federal regulations@ budget processes and litigation from outside sourcesB ApproDing a timber sale can ta2e yearsB *ometimes plans need to adapt during that

time to meet new threats@ but regulations preDent a Ruic2 change in directionB IItJs li2e the Titanic - if you see a threat coming at you@ how hard is it to change course and do something differentV ItJs not Dery easy@L said !orthern %ills Tistrict #anger #honda "J.yrneB .obFien said that the W2Y@000-acre [ountain \ine .eetle #esponse \ro]ect@ along with Darious other pro]ects that amount to about 200@000 acres@ will help decrease response time to newlyhit areas and increase the ability to create a beetle-preDenting barrier of thinned@ healthy forest in leading edge FonesB *ome of those pro]ects could haDe boots on the ground by summer of 2012B .obFien said that approDing that many acres for a Ruic2 response is critical to staying ahead of the spreading infestationB IKe haDe ]ust got to loo2 at eDery possible stand that could be threatened here and analyFe this now@L he saidB II donJt thin2 we can PassumeQ that this is moDing at such a pace that we can 2eep up with itBL "J.yrne said the 8orest *erDiceJs main defense in battling the pine beetles is the timber sale@ which allows the timber industry to harDest trees on federal land and what ma2es thinning in leading edge Fones possibleB [aintaining those timber sales in adDance of the beetles is Iclearly our niche here@L .obFien saidB Kithout timber sales@ which actually create reDenue for the 8orest *erDice@ then the .lac2 %ills would haDe to rely on federal funding to fight the beetles@ as many other forests in the _B*B doB And federal funds are in short supply these daysB _nfortunately@ while the .lac2 %ills has sold more timber than any other forest nationwide in the past fiDe years@ the beetles are still adDancing@ and the timber industry has limits to what it can economically log on the forestB In other words@ the timber sale canJt be our only preDentatiDe measure@ and "J.yrne said the 8orest *erDice recogniFes thatB The 8orest *erDice is wor2ing with priDate landowners and Dolunteer organiFations to find a solution for how to best treat the forestB A lot of landowners and Dolunteers haDe come forward in the past siS months@ ardently trying to help the 8orest *erDice remoDe beetle2illed trees from national forest landB .ut there are time-consuming processes for that tooB Khile "J.yrne and .obFien said they are impressed with that effort forest wide@ itJs not as simple as handing a Dolunteer a hardhat and chainsaw and setting him loose in the forestB )egal Ruestions need to be answered firstN what degree of training will Dolunteers need to undergoV Kho will pay for itV If a Dolunteer is in]ured on the forest@ who is liableV IKe are trying to find some instrument that will let the 8orest *erDice wor2 with these other entities ` so that the timber sale contract isnJt our only option@L "J.yrne saidB I#ight now weJre loo2ing through law regulation policy that affects the 8orest *erDice@ seeing if thereJs some way thatJs legal out there for us to be able to do itB Ke really want to be able

Forest Supervisor Craig Bobzien inspects a map identifying beetle-hit trees near Custer Peak. Bobzien said there is hope of success against the pine beetles. Pioneer photo by Mark Watson

The Forest Service treats the beetle-hit areas for public safety first. Here, Forest Service fire crews chip harvested beetle trees near Roubaix Campground. Pioneer photo by Mark VanGerpen to wor2 with them@ but itJs the mechanics of trying to be able to do that ` All the federal processes@ the laws that we haDe to meet@ theyJre there for a good reason@ but it ta2es time to get through themBL Along with Dolunteers eager to help are those eager to offer adDice@ which in turn generates a wide Dariety of ideas and Dalues about the best treatment strategies and most critical areas to protectB .obFien said there is no uniDersal strategy for eDerybody to follow@ because the beetles affect different ]urisdictions that haDe different priorities and methodsB That said@ .obFien said there is a need for cooperation and forest-wide prioritiFation of areas that need to be treatedB IThe reality of it is that we do haDe to prioritiFe areas@ by loo2ing at the Dalues at ris2 and the conseRuences of not going there@L .obFien saidB IKe clearly haDe to do thatB Ke do that on a daily and wee2ly basisBL

Those priority areas naturally shift as new beetle attac2s appear or eSisting ones eSpand@ and eDen as funding is allocated and spentB *afety is always the top priority@ but .obFien said the 8orest *erDice will also wor2 to protect the economic@ recreational and enDironmental assets in the forest as well@ because eDen though fighting the beetles is tough to do with limited funds@ doing nothing could end up costing eDen moreB This is the sixth article in an eight-week series that discusses the effects of the mountain pine beetle on the !lack Hills. Next week's article will discuss treatment options and tactics in combating the pine beetle. Send us your comments to newsAbhpioneer.com or log on to www.bhpioneer.com to post comments on the stories.

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