More pine beetle funding gains support in Legislature
PIERRE -- County governments should receive a total of $2 million in additional state financial assistance for fighting infestations of pine beetles, the state Senate decided Tuesday night.
Sen. Bob Ewing, R-Spearfish, said it would help support the Black Hills forest products industry, reduce fuel for forest fires and help ensure tourism's future.
"It is an incredible epidemic that we have and it certainly exceeds the boundaries of the Black Hills," Sen. Mark Kirkeby, R-Rapid City, said.
There are infestations in Rapid City, Spearfish and other communities that don't lie within the Black Hills forest, Kirkeby said. Also speaking in favor was Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City. The money would be available on a matching basis of $2 of state aid for every $1 raised by a county.
Senators voted 34-0 for HB 1050. It now returns to the House of Representatives for a decision whether to agree with a Senate Appropriations Committee amendment.
The amendment allows counties to receive the funds before they have gathered their match.