Mountain Pine Beetle

February 19, 2012 by staff 

Mountain Pine Beetle, The cost of Lawrence County’s war against the mountain pine beetle epidemic has already exceeded $500,000, and up to an additional $1 million is needed to finish the work in this year’s effort to slow the devastation.

Lawrence County Invasive Species Management supervisor Dave Heck updated Lawrence County Commissioners on Tuesday on the work completed so far, and additional work needed to complete Phase II of the pine beetle effort that began in November.

According to Heck, the county treated 6,515 trees on Spearfish Mountain at a cost of $14.90 per tree, totaling $97,073.50.

Cutting on Spearfish Mountain took 18 days, said Heck.

He emphasized the urgency with which the cutting needs to be completed, and compared the staggering cost of treating the beetle infested areas to the money allocated for each area.

The city of Spearfish donated $30,000 for work on Spearfish Mountain, said Heck. Work in that area exceeded the donation earmark within the first few days of cutting there.

“I told (Spearfish city officials) when we were coming up to the day we would be out of money and they said to keep going,” said Heck.

Work in Spearfish Canyon has already cost $58,616.60 in just nine days, with 3,934 green-infested trees treated. An estimated 50,000 additional trees have been identified and are still slated to be cut, but the plan total exceeds money targeted for that area.

“At the current rate of felling trees, we will exhaust all (Spearfish Canyon) donations in eight days,” said Heck on Tuesday.

While the news that an additional $745,000 is needed to mitigate an estimated 50,000 trees already identified in Spearfish Canyon seemed to stun some commissioners, Heck said members of the Spearfish Canyon Foundation shouldn’t be surprised.

“They’ve known this was coming,” said Heck. “I told them in 20 days we would exhaust their resources.”

Heck was referring to the $143,750 in donations from the Spearfish Canyon Foundation, Spearfish Canyon Homeowners Association, Black Hills Fly Fishers and the Spearfish Canyon Fire Department.

The county received a $20,000 check from Wharf Resources on Tuesday to help fund cutting on Wharf property.

Cutting in a third treatment area, identified as the Limestone area, is estimated to cost $50,868.60, Heck said. Work in the Limestone area is expected to be complete in five days, he said.

The Limestone project area lies near Roughlock Falls and encompasses Geranium Park.

To date, 3,414 green-hit trees have already been identified in the area. The cost of cutting the trees is estimated at $50,868.60, said Heck.

An additional 20,000 trees have already been identified in the Limestone area, with an estimated cutting cost of $298,000. That’s in addition to the $50,000 cash donation and $50,000 in-kind pledge from Neiman Enterprises, Heck said.

Reconnaissance crews have marked more than 60,000 green-hit trees in the sanitation district areas on United States Forest Service land that falls within active timber sale areas.

All trees in the sanitation areas have been harvested and sent to the mill, said Heck. An estimated 80,000 trees will have been identified and harvested on Forest Service land at the completion of the project.

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