PIERRE, S.D (KELO AM) – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed Colorado and Wyoming Federal District Court decisions denying environmental group challenges to the Black Hills Forest Plan including the portions addressing the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. The Federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has previously affirmed the South Dakota Federal District Court’s decision denying environmental group challenges to the Black Hills Forestry Plan.
“This decision is critical since both the state and federal mountain beetle efforts are intertwined and must be aggressive and consistent to address the destructive infestation,” said Jackley. “While the environmentalist groups have been well intentioned, the pine beetle infestation requires a responsible forestry plan to protect our forest, wildlife, and surrounding private lands and this decision now allows us to continue with this much needed plan.”
In 1997, environmental groups challenged the new forest plan for the Black Hills National Forest. Over the years, the environmental groups challenge has been litigated in the Federal courts of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. The State of South Dakota has intervened in all the jurisdictions because of the importance placed in protecting our Black Hills National Forest from pine beetles and wild fires.
In 2013, Colorado and Wyoming District Courts issued rulings in favor of mountain pine beetle control in the Black Hills National Forest. The rulings arose from a claim by environmental groups that a revised 2005 federal forest plan should have relied on long discarded rules instead of contemporary requirements, including the need to handle the mountain pine beetle infestation. The Federal Court held among other rulings that the environmental groups had unreasonably delayed their claims and current efforts to thin trees and otherwise address mountain pine beetle should move forward. To view the map comparing the Pine Beetle infestation in year 2000 with year 2012, please go to the link below: