Entomologist reports Mountain Pine Beetle infestation is at a natural level

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Rapid City, SD The National Forest Advisory Board met for the first update in 2018 as a collaborative effort between several different agencies to improve the Black Hills National Forest.

The meeting started with a moment of silence for Representative Craig Tiezen who served on the board for several years.

The status of the mountain pine beetle was a hot topic of discussion as a new survey produced good news.

After a 20 plus year battle the beetles are no longer an epidemic to the forest and have since been lowered to the status of endemic.

Kurt Allen entomologist says," Basically the mountain pine beetle epidemic has ended and we are back to what we call endemic levels or very low levels of beetles thorough out the forest. You know we get down to where we are now you know basically less than one tree per acre being effected and we are well below that across the forest, that's endemic level."

Allen says when the levels are so low, mitigation efforts are minimal but when foresters thin areas to prevent wildfire, they are also helping to prevent the pine beetle population from increasing.