Experts plan for future health of Black Hills Forest

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 5:42 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson and Governor Kristi Noem met with Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman to discuss plans about the safety of The Black Hills National Forest in the future.

Johnson says the main battle is getting speedbumps out of the way to allow the Forest Service to be more opportunistic with their budgeting, allowing for more room for safety and control.

Thinning trees and controlled burns are a priority for the growth and conservation for the future of a forest and prevention of disasters like the current wildfire.

Johnson says though preservation stirs thoughts surrounding environmentalism and preservation, but burns and thinning are natural and necessary.

“Every single person wants to make sure that what we do, we do in a sustainable way,” says Johnson. “I just think there’s an interest in making sure that we are as innovative and as flexible as we can be, because we know that business as usual is not going to keep this forest and this timber industry as strong as it can be. So, let’s be innovative, but nobody is interested in hurting this forest.”

Acting as quickly as possible is also vital, because Governor Noem says here in the hills, with a forest as dense as the population of the city, there’s no time to lose.

“What’s different here is when we get forest fires, because the hills are so populated, it literally is an issue of lives being in jeopardy,” says Governor Noem.

The state is working closely in conjunction with experts to develop a plan that ensures the prevention of future wild fires, and the conservation of the forest.

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