Pierre, S.D. - Attorney General Marty Jackley announces today that the U.S. District Court of South Dakota has dismissed the environmentalists’ lawsuit that sought to block implementation of the timber management plan for the Norbeck Wildlife preserve area in the Black Hills.
On September 3, 2010, the Friends of Norbeck and the Native Ecosystems Council filed a lawsuit in Colorado Federal District Court requesting a permanent injunction to enjoin implementation of the Timber Management Plan for the Preserve Area. On October 12, 2010, the State of South Dakota, filed a Motion to Intervene into the litigation and to move venue from Colorado to South Dakota District Court. It was and remains the State’s position that there is a considerable local interest in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, and that South Dakotans have a unique stake in the management of the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve giving rise to a more appropriate litigation forum here in South Dakota. On October 18, 2010, the Colorado District Court agreed and transferred the case to Federal District Court in South Dakota.
Since 2004, the Forest Service and the State of South Dakota have cooperated in analyzing and developing the Norbeck Wildlife Project. The goal for the Norbeck project is “to improve habitat conditions for game animals and birds on the National Forest System land within the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and to reduce the risk and consequence of fire escaping from the Black Hills Elk Wilderness.” In the densely forested Norbeck area, mountain pine beetles have caused heavy mortality of stands of Ponderosa Pine, with the Forest Service estimating fire hazard at 77% or more in the Norbeck Project area. The Norbeck Wildlife Project area encompasses a portion of Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Black Hills Wilderness area, and private property.
“Today’s decision will allow the State and the National Forest Service to improve, strengthen, and grow a healthier forest in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve area for everyone to enjoy,” stated Attorney Marty Jackley. “While the environmentalist groups may be well intentioned, the pine beetle infestation requires a responsible forestry plan to protect wildlife and our forest, and this dismissal will assist in preserving these important forest areas for generations to come.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, January 31, 2011
CONTACT: Sara Rabern, (605) 773-3215