Representative Kristi Noem made a number of stops in the Black Hills on Tuesday, including here in Rapid City.
Noem met with U.S. Forest Service officials Tuesday morning, discussing the latest on the Resilient Federal Forests Act. The act recently passed the House and now makes its way to the Senate. The idea behind the act is to avoid using Forest Service dollars in wildfire fighting, and rather take the money from FEMA.
Representative Noem also heard from local U.S. Forest Service staff, learning about the challenges here at home that could use some help from Washington.
One of those concerns, keeping the timber industry alive and well in South Dakota, after the pine beetle epidemic ripped through the Black Hills.
Rep. Noem says, "We are one of the few areas in the country where we still have a thriving timber industry. We want to make sure we have a market and a forest harvest we can utilize to keep that industry going. Use it as a tool to benefit our forest service, that they can do the thinning that needs to happen to manage it in the future."
Forest Service officials say thinning the small, but thick trees we have in the Hills is costly, at about $400 an acre.
Noem also says she has seen timber industries in other parts of the nation struggle after similar pine beetle outbreaks.