Black Hills ski area copes with wintertime loggingLEAD (AP) — Wintertime logging being done to fight mountain pine beetles has led to the closure of eight miles of groomed cross country skiing trails in western South Dakota's Black Hills.
LEAD (AP) — Wintertime logging being done to fight mountain pine beetles has led to the closure of eight miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails in western South Dakota's Black Hills.
The southern half of the Eagle Cliff Ski Area southwest of Lead has been shut down, the media reported. The closure also affects parking lots at three trailheads.
Summer logging has been done in the area in the past. U.S. Forest Service officials decided the beetle problem was too great to risk waiting until this summer to cut more infested trees.
"They felt it was necessary to go in, because up there trees are so infested with pine beetles," said Bonnie Jones, Forest Service recreation specialist. "They wanted to get the trees out before (the beetles) fly again."
The destructive bugs have infested more than 40 million acres of the nation's forests, killing trees and increasing the danger for forest fires. The O'Neill Pass area of the Black Hills, where the Eagle Cliff trails are located, has a "huge" infestation of beetles, Jones said. If infested trees are not removed, beetles will move from them to new trees in mid-summer.
The eight miles of groomed ski trails have become temporary logging roads filled with heavy logging equipment and fallen trees.
"It's not a safe place to be," Jones said.
Skier Eric Hehner said the logging will help save other trees and create a better long-distance view on some of the trails.
"If they hadn't done it, it just would have been a bigger mess ... and then it would just be dead and broken up trees," Hehner said.