PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the U.S. District Court of South Dakota’s dismissal of 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 about 90% 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.
"This decision is crucial to addressing the current mountain pine beetle infestation in the Norbeck Preserve and also to diminish the movement of the beetle infestation onto private lands and Custer State Park, “ said 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 affirmation of the dismissal will assist in preserving these important forest areas for generations to come.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Friday, November 18, 2011
CONTACT: Sara Rabern, (605) 773-3215