SPEARFISH – The Spearfish City Council allocated $60,000 Monday night to help fight the mountain pine beetle epidemic that has killed thousands of acres of ponderosa pine trees in the Black Hills.
The funds, which will come from the city’s hydro electric funds, will help Lawrence County’s ongoing beetle fight.
“No matter where they are cutting, it effects Spearfish,” said Mayor Jerry Krambeck following the council’s unanimous vote.
This marked the third donation to the county to aid in the fight. In 2012 the city donated $90,000.
The Lawrence County Mountain Pine Beetle program has been halted for the winter due to the lack of funds.
Before the funds dried up, 16 sawyers, in their second year of work, fell 1,500 beetle infested trees a day. New Forest Service regulations, which slowed the speed to which they could drop the trees, de-limb them and then buck them into 2-foot chunks, lowered the rate crews dropped to about 230 a day.
“The Forest Service is enforcing a new slash depth requirement. It changed from 48 inches to 18 inches,” program administrator Dave Heck said previously. “It takes forever to get the slash down to that level. It also doubled the administrators we needed to have out with the sawyers to make sure everything was down.”
Heck said Lawrence County crews won’t start up again until Sept. 1, and added that because crews started cutting last January, the Lawrence County Mountain Pine Beetle program was able to work two flights in one year.
January through April, they cut 42,250 trees and since Sept. 1, 2012, crews have cut about 44,000 trees.