FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Tuesday, May 14, 2013
CONTACT: Sara Rabern (605)773-3215
Federal Court Upholds Current Black Hills Forest Plan Addressing Pine Beetle Infestation
PIERRE, S.D - Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that the Wyoming Federal District Court has again upheld the current Black Hills Forest Plan. The 1990 Forest Plan was amended in 2005 after a top ranking forest service official sent it back for more study of its effects on wildlife. During the review, the amendment process also included extensive consideration of the rampant mountain pine beetle infestation which grew exponentially from 1997-2005. South Dakota has vigorously urged the Forest Service to fully consider the mountain pine beetle and its damaging effects on trees and the increased risk of fire damage. The 2005 Amendment provides for a variety of timbering, prescribed burning and other vegetation treatments for a diverse forest and to minimize the continued beetle infestation.
In 2011, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld the related plan for the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve that also provided for diversity in timber management for game animals and bird habitat in a portion of the Forest. Within weeks after losing their Norbeck challenge in the Eighth Circuit, the same environmental groups and others filed suit in Wyoming Federal District Court, seeking to set aside the 2005 overall Forest Plan.
The South Dakota Attorney General intervened on behalf of the State of South Dakota in support of the 2005 Forest Plan. The Wyoming Federal Court upheld the Forest Plan in late 2012 and has now rejected a motion by the environmental groups to reconsider the ruling. The environmental groups will have until mid June to appeal the District Court’s ruling.
“While the environmentalist groups may be well intentioned, the pine beetle infestation requires a responsible forestry plan to protect our forest, wildlife, and surrounding private lands,” said Jackley. “As intuitively recognized by the Courts “’The record does not indicate whether the mountain pine beetles…were aware of the settlement or participated in the plan revision process, but it is clear they didn’t wait for Congressional authorization…before undertaking an expanded program of forest resource exploitation’.”