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30,500 Beetle-Infested Trees Treated in Custer State Park





SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: January 6, 2012
Media Contact: Ray Sowers, 605-773-4260

30,500 Beetle-Infested Trees Treated in Custer State Park

PIERRE, S.D. – Crews working in Custer State Park have already cut down over 30,500 trees infested with mountain pine beetle since control efforts began late last year.  These treatments are in addition to state efforts on private land through the Black Hills Forest Initiative.


“Control measures to address beetle infestations within the park are in full-swing,” said State Forester Ray Sowers.  “The mild winter weather has been ideal.  If it continues, our efforts should remain ahead of schedule.”


The goal is to cut down 142,000 beetle-infested trees and “chunk” them – cut the trunks into two-foot sections – by March 1, well before the beetles leave the trees in late spring.  Cutting infested trees and chunking them into smaller sections kills the beetles and prevents them from attacking new trees during their annual summer flight.

Last year a survey of Custer State Park identified several pockets of beetle-infested areas scattered throughout the park, totaling approximately 142,000 trees.  Most of these are new “hits” in the main body of the park, outside of the longstanding control areas initiated to protect the northern portion around Sylvan Lake.


Specially trained crews are working to mark infested trees, while workers from the South Dakota Departments of Agriculture and Game, Fish & Parks, private contractors, and inmate crews are felling the trees and cutting them into chunks.  In some instances, logging companies are utilizing trees for commercial purposes rather than chunking them.
Marking crews have already marked 62,000 trees for treatment and will continue until all infested trees have been marked.  Cutting crews have covered approximately 5,000 acres and treated or removed over 30,500 trees.  Logging companies have removed and utilized approximately 19,000 of the infested trees.


Custer State Park staff have been an integral part of the state’s suppression efforts, helping to administer on-the-ground cutting activities and assisting with housing and support for marking crews.


“The contract cutting crews are performing well, the marking crews are staying ahead of the cutting crews, and all the contracts are in place to operate at full capacity,” said Adam Gahagan, Senior Forester with Custer State Park.  “We’re on pace to get all the trees cut before the beetles fly later this summer.”


Agriculture is South Dakota's No. 1 industry, generating nearly $21 billion in annual economic activity and employing more than 143,000 South Dakotans.  The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's mission is to promote, protect, preserve and improve this industry for today and tomorrow.  Visit us online at http://sdda.sd.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Sowers (SOW’-urz)