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SD pine beetle initiative removes 441,000 trees

PIERRE (AP) — More than 441,000 trees infested with mountain pine beetles have been removed since the state of South Dakota launched its Black Hills Forest Initiative in August 2011.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard says he's pleased with the progress, but there's more work to do.

State Forester Greg Josten says there has been major progress in Custer State Park, where the number of infested trees decreased from 100,000 in 2012 to 30,000 last year. But state officials remain concerned about high tree mortality rates at Sylvan Lake, where 23,000 trees were recently infested.

On private land, more than 186,000 acres have been surveyed and about 364,000 infested trees marked.

The Legislature has allocated $4 million over the past three years to fight the beetle epidemic.