Is Black Hills Pine Beetle Epidemic Over?
If you have spent any time in the last decade around Custer State Park or Black Hills National Forest in Western South Dakota you have seen the devastation perpetrated by the Mountain Pine Beetles.
A few years back we stopped at a scenic outlook while driving the Wild Life Loop in Custer State Park. As you looked out you would see whole hill sides of Ponderosa Pines turned brown from the effects of the Mountain Beetles.
As you drove along through the Black Hills State Forest you would notice stacks of sawed up pine tree logs. These were the evidence of the efforts of the forest service trying to harvest all the dead wood to hopefully limit the pile up of forest fire fuel.
According to KSFY TV in an update on the situation aerial surveys have recently indicated that 4.700 acres of the Black Hills National Forest were affected by the Mountain Pine Beetles last year.
That's higher than the 2,500 acres that were affected in 2016 but still below what the U.S. Forest Service considers an epidemic.
The mountain pine beetle is native to the Black Hills forest ecosystem. The most recent epidemic lasted from 1996 to 2016 and affected about 450,000 acres. There have been several others dating to the late 1890s, each lasting eight to 13 years.