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SD has surveyed 240,000 acres for pine beetles

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news Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE (AP) — More than 240,000 acres in South Dakota's Black Hills have been surveyed for mountain pine beetles infestations since the state launched an effort to fight the beetles two years ago, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Thursday.

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As a result of the surveys, crews have treated 335,000 trees. Nearly 200,000 trees have been cut down on private land, and 135,000 trees have been cut in Custer State Park and other state lands.

Daugaard said the effort is aimed at slowing the epidemic that kills trees.

"We have not yet 'beat the beetles,' but we will continue working to protect the Black Hills," the governor said in a written statement.

Landowners can sign up through Sept. 13 for the 2013-2014 season of surveying and marking infested trees. After crews identify and mark infested trees, landowners are responsible for treating infested trees. But the state also has a cost sharing program that has involved nearly 1,900 landowners so far.

Treatment techniques include removing infested trees for use by sawmills and cutting the trees into chunks

State Forester Ray Sowers said crews are becoming skilled at identifying and treating infested trees, and years of treatment have resulted in fewer infested trees in Custer State Park. Crews treated more than 100,000 trees in the park in 2010-2011, but only 35,000 in the 2012-2013 cutting season, he said.

"It's clear that our efforts have been successful in the park," Sowers said. "But there is still a lot of work to do on private lands. We're not out of this yet."

Information on the program is available at www.BeatTheBeetles.com .

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