Westerman, Johnson, Noem Discuss Natural Resources Issues in South Dakota
WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) joined U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Gov. Kristi Noem to learn about the natural resources issues facing South Dakota.
“I want to thank Congressman Johnson for inviting me to South Dakota and Governor Noem for joining us to meet with the Forest Service and discuss solutions to improve vital sawmill infrastructure around the Black Hills National Forest,” Westerman said. “This is critical to maintain the forest’s health and resiliency to fires, disease and insects like the Mountain Pine Beetle. Congressman Johnson and I also spoke with employees of Mount Rushmore Forest Products, a mill that is set to close due to steep reductions in timber supplies from the Black Hills National Forest. These workers will lose their jobs, paychecks and ability to provide for their families. Our visits with these mill employees and several South Dakota ranchers were powerful reminders of how federal policies are life changing for rural communities. I look forward to taking what we learned back to Congress to craft thoughtful, innovative legislation and fight for rural Americans across the country.”
“This morning Ranking Member Westerman and I sat down with two timber professionals who’ve lost their jobs because of the mill closure,” Johnson said. “They are husbands, fathers and people who care about their community. It was among the most powerful experiences I’ve had in Congress. These men want to protect the other timber jobs in the Black Hills and they want to be good stewards of our incredible forest. I’m thankful for the time we had with them, mill owner Jim Neiman and leaders at the US Forest Service to brainstorm new approaches to keeping timber harvest levels at a level that will serve both the forest and the timber industry.”
Westerman and Johnson began their visit last night by hosting a dinner with South Dakota ranchers, learning more about grazing and ranching issues on both public and private lands in the region.
Westerman and Johnson continued their visit with a tour of Mount Rushmore Forest products in Hill City, S.D., a family-owned lumber mill that is closing soon due to the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to scale back logging in the Black Hills. They wrapped up the day by meeting with Noem and the new Forest Supervisor for the Black Hills National Forest.