Beetle Bills Advance In Pierre
The State Senate is backing two measures to fund the fight against pine beetles in the Black Hills. Senate Bill 28 and Senate Bill 135 both add extra funding to the beetle suppression effort. State Senator Jim Bradford spoke in favor of the measures on the Senate floor. Bradford represents Pine Ridge. He says he doesn’t normally support bills dealing with managing the Black Hills–but this case is different.
“I want you to know that I got 10 phone calls, 40 e-mails, 60 text messages, 10 smoke signals, and they all said vote for this. Because when we get them back we want all those beetles dead,” says Bradford.
To date millions of dollars in state funding has been spent on the effort to curb the beetle infestation. Neither of the current bills has a funding total as the final cost and budget are still being worked out. Both bills achieved the two-thirds majority vote needed to pass the state Senate, they are headed next to the House.
Legislation to add more funding to the fight against Pine Beetles in the Black Hills continues to sail through the state legislature.
Senate Bill 28 appropriates funding to fight pine beetles on state land and across the entire Black Hills.
Larry Mann is a lobbyist for the Black Hills Forest Resource Association a timber industry group. Mann spoke in favor of the bill before the House appropriations committee.
“We have to continue to fight. If we don’t, it appears to us the investment everybody has made may go for not. Because if we start going backwards – it just means that their needs to be more funds and more effort sometimes down the road,” says Mann.
Lobbyists for the visitor industry also spoke in favor of spending state funds on fighting pine beetles. They argued tourism is sustained in part by a healthy looking forest. No one spoke against the bill in committee. It went on to pass unanimously.