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Business & Economics

Thune says more sawmill closures might come soon as early next year

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Senator Thune's Office

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

The Black Hills National Forest is at a critical crossroads, but not for the first time. The U.S. Forest Service is working on a new forest plan. Timber harvesting has long been a critical component of forest management.

Forest Service researchers have sounded the alarm that the current timber harvest levels are unsustainable. The forest simply cannot keep up with losses from recent wildfires, the bark beetle epidemic, and harvesting levels, they say. Researchers who compiled what is known as the General Technical Report (or GTR) say current logging levels are at least twice what the forest can sustain.

Meanwhile, the timber and forest products industry is already taking hits from a reduction in logging. A Hill City sawmill closed in May, eliminating 125 jobs. If other mills close, industry representatives say, the infrastructure for managing a healthy forest disappears, along with more than 1,000 jobs.

We'll have Black Hills National Forest Supervisor Jeff Tomac on Friday's In the Moment. But first, we talk with U.S. Senator Thune about his recent meeting with U.S. Forest Chief Randy Moore.

Edited version from 'In the Moment'

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