Heard on the Hill: Hearing in the Hills

Posted July 5, 2011 at 5:46pm

Next Sunday the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold a field hearing at a trailer park in Hill City, S.D.

The Rafter J Bar Ranch is close to the forest where the mountain pine beetle began its path of destruction from South Dakota to Colorado and Wyoming.

“Millions of acres of dead and dying timber left in the wake of the beetle’s destruction has increased the risk of catastrophic fires throughout our forests and has impacted recreational access and other multiple-use activities,” Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said in a statement Thursday.

“The pine beetle epidemic is nothing short of a slow-motion disaster for the Black Hills National Forest and the region’s economy,” Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) agreed.

In other words, these are not nice beetles.

The Rafter J Bar Ranch’s other claim to fame — besides the evil pine beetle, its proximity to the Black Hills National Park and playing host to a field committee hearing — is its history. According to its website, Gen. George Custer’s expedition wandered through the Bar Ranch way back in July ’74.

That’s 1874.