South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard warned against complacency on the opening day of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative workshop in Deadwood.
"I'm so glad to see so much expertise here," Gov. Daugaard told attendees. "But we don’t want to use this workshop to just clap each other on the back. We want to use this to think about how to do things better."
The Governor noted the appropriateness of the two-day workshop being held in Deadwood, which earned its name from a pine beetle infestation back in the 1800s. Gov. Daugaard mentioned that the worst beetle outbreak in South Dakota history has taken place in recent years, but that the state's work with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has successfully battled the problem through active management efforts.
"Proper land management is critical," he said. "It helps control fire danger and supports economic growth and tourism. The Black Hills have been a great success story for active management. Despite vibrant timbering, it is still a beautiful forest, attractive to recreationalists. And this has worked because of the great relationships developed over time between the state and USFS."
The workshop is the third in a series hosted across the West by the Western Governors' Association for the central policy initiative of WGA Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
The initiative is designed to examine forest management programs and investigate collaborative forest landscape restoration. The workshops will play a central role in collecting information that will position Western Governors to recommend and promote congressional efforts to improve forest management authorities.