Since the announcement of the Hill City Sawmill closure in April where is the help to save them? Although the help so far from our congressional delegation is appreciated, we need to all be working harder to save the Black Hills National Forest. Our delegation should be acting boldly, in similar form as past actions by Sen. Tom Daschle and others that turned the ship in the Black Hills.
The National Forest Service has been cutting back on the amounts of timber that can be harvested. By limiting the logging it negatively affected the company which in turn forced them to close eliminating over 150 jobs. Not only does this hurt the workers and their families it also hurts the town of Hill City. Also, the negative trickle down effect on the companies that purchase the products harvested from the forest. The Hill City sawmill supplied a major portion of the wood chips to Dakota Panel in Rapid City and any additional closures will create a domino effect that impacts multiple communities. This is serious for all of us that live in the hills. By not allowing this company to log the forest it increases the risk of fires and diseases. Who is going to take care of our forest?
Who will thin the forest to prevent another pine beetle epidemic or limit the spread of wildfires destroying forests and communities across the West? No one from the National Forest Service in DC will lose their homes or businesses from a forest fire here in the Black Hills. No Forest Service employees will lose their jobs or homes if the Forest Service shuts everything down.
After speaking with Jim Neiman, who owns the Hill City sawmill, he told me there are still large areas of the forest that remain at “high risk” for both insect infestation and wildfires. He is now extremely concerned that the NFS will restrict what the Spearfish, SD and Hulett, WY sawmills can log and force them to shut down as well. So how are we supposed to take care of the Black Hills National Forest? The forest products companies, their employees, and harvest crews have done a great job tending to the health and vitality of our forest. Millions of people come here because of the beauty here in the Black Hills.
The Hill City sawmill is going up for auction on September 15 and we need to stop that from happening!
A healthy forest needs to be logged to stay healthy. Why are we allowing the Federal Government to dictate to us when they have no consequences for the outcome? Looking at the 10th Amendment of our US Constitution one would think this exceeds the federal government’s enumerated powers and violates our state’s rights.
We could also use Governor Noem’s help as well to not let this happen to our great state. We work for the people of South Dakota. I hope our congressional delegation addresses this serious issue right away to reverse the course the National Forest Service is taking. I know they are aware of it so please contact all of them and ask them what they can still do to stop this from happening to the Black Hills! Let your voice be heard and lets be proactive in helping keep sawmills in South Dakota!
Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller serves District 30.
Julie Frye-Mueller is a Republican State Representative from District 30.