State Forester: Climate Change Impacting Forest

Mar 14, 2013

This week Governor Dennis Daugaard signed legislation adding an additional two-million dollars in the battle against Black Hills Pine Beetles.
The beetle infestation in the Hills is the largest in recorded history–and it might be a symptom of a larger problem. 

As SDPB's Charles Michael Ray reports one state official believes global warming could mean more changes for the Black Hills in the future. 

Ray Sowers is the State Forester.  He is among those who are convinced by the research behind climate change.

Climate Change is seen as a factor leading to the increased size and intensity of wildfires in the nation’s forests.

“Over the last decade I’ve kind of changed my thinking on climate change.  I think climate change is pretty much proven with all the research now,” says Sowers.
Sowers says regardless of the cause of climate change–in the coming years forest managers need to be more cognizant about its impact on places like the Black Hills.

“I think that’s part of the reason we’re seeing the huge epidemics of mountain pine beetles that are impacting our western forests basically from Canada to Mexico.  Wildfires are on the increase in size and intensity.  I think all these things are evidence that things are changing,” says Sowers.

Sowers says the latest forest inventory data for the US shows a migration north of some tree species as habitats change.    He says forest managers in the United States are looking at strategies to deal with global warming.