LEAD -— State crews have finished a four-month project to remove trees infested with mountain pine beetles along the George S. Mickelson hiking and biking trail in South Dakota's Black Hills.

Crews have been removing infested trees in an effort to slow the beetle's impact on scenery along the 109-mile trail that runs from Deadwood in the northern Black Hills to Edgemont in the south.

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Trail manager Dana Garry says that if the infested trees were not removed, they would die and could fall across the trail to create a safety hazard. He says about 2,700 trees have been treated so far, and more could be removed after the beetles fly and spread the infestation this summer.

Crews will be cleaning debris and placing new material on the trail this summer.

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