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$2 million more coming for battling pine beetles

PIERRE -- The Legislature is putting more money into the fight against mountain pine beetles in the Black Hills.

The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to earmarking $1,950,000. SB 28 now heads to Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

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The legislation provides the $350,000 sought by the Daugaard administration for work in Custer State Park and $1.6 million that can be spent on private and other lands.

"We're pretty happy with it," Sen. Bruce Rampelberg, R-Rapid City, said afterward.

The Senate vote was 30-4.

Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, challenged why so much more money was being provided beyond the governor's original request.

The $1.6 million is less than the $2 million originally requested from legislators for the private lands work, according to Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford. She is the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman.

Sen. Bob Ewing supported the two-pronged funding. "We're winning the war on the beetles in the northern Hills," said Ewing, R-Spearfish.

Rampelberg said the cutting and chunking of trees takes place in October through March. "The problem we have is they can multiply three to five times a year," he said.