Pine beetles cause closure of popular Black Hills trails

Reports of the growing pine beetle infestation in the Black Hills have been worrisome for several years, but now the situation has gotten downright tragic.

According to a report in the Rapid City Journal, two trails that lead to the top of Harney Peak – South Dakota’s highest point – have been closed for the winter so the Forest Service can go in and combat the bugs by thinning infested trees.

The closed trails are Trail No. 9, which is the most popular route to Harney Peak, and Trail No. 4. Both trails begin at the Sylvan Lake Day Use Area.

Let’s hope the Forest Service’s efforts succeed. According to the Journal, the outlook is grim: “The Harney Peak area is dealing with more than four times as many insects as researchers have ever seen before …" the story says. "Resource program manager Gary Brundige said as many as 80 percent to 85 percent of the trees may be gone in the next two to three years."

Categories: Black Hills, Western SD

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspapers Contest. Seth’s day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota’s state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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