Climate change, logging collide — and a forest shrinks

South Dakota News

Blaine Cook, a retired U.S. Forest Service forest management scientist, is seen walking through a logging site in the Black Hills National Forest, on July 14, 2021, near Custer City, S.D. Cook said his monitoring work last decade showed too many trees were being cut from the forest. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

CUSTER CITY, S.D. (AP) — Government scientists say the pace of logging in South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest is too much and the forest is shrinking.

Worries about wildfires and tree-killing beetles drove U.S. officials to sharply ramp up logging years ago.

Across the U.S. West, more trees have been dying as climate change dramatically alters the landscape and leaves forests susceptible to wildfires and pests.

Critics say in the fervor to address the problem, federal officials are allowing the removal of too many older trees that can better withstand fire.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore says a warming planet demands changes but the timber industry should be part of the solution.

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