State funds help counties manage forest

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 8:06 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Senate Bill 21 was signed into law Wednesday by Governor Kristi Noem. The bill allocates money to the state and local entities so they’ll have more input into the Black Hills National Forest management plan.

Now the state will create a one-to-one cost-share program for the five counties that have black hills national forest lands within their boundaries.

Pennington, Meade, Lawrence, Custer, and Fall River counties will be able to apply a portion of the $500-thousand allocated to allow the counties to participate in the management plan revision process.

It also allows for the hiring of someone to work with local stakeholders and the state during that process.

“We want a plan that is a comprehensive, unbiased plan. We want one that will collect good data and want to create an effective Forest Plan that will serve our county and our state for years to come,” said South Dakota Representative Mary Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald believes the plan is ‘fair’... Meaning one county will not receive more than fifty-five percent of the funds allocated to the program.

“We all have the same outcome, yet the same goal. And so I’m encouraged. I’m very encouraged now that we’re getting those resources available to us in order to work on something that will benefit our state and our county,” said Fitzgerald.

The hope is that this funding will keep the national forest going for future generations.