Monopolist logs out BHNF, threatens Trump's Forest Service with closures

I've known Hulett, Wyoming's Jim Neiman for over forty years. He's a ruthless negotiator and committed capitalist who would log the Black Hills into the dirt since he controls the Black Hills National Forest leadership. A South Dakota town named for a war criminal just held its seventh ritualized bark beetle burning - an homage to the Neiman family.

Today, the Trump Organization and Neiman Enterprises are logging and slashing some 2,669 acres of forest on public land between Jewel Cave National Monument and the Custer Highlands residential area. Fuel treatments include clearcuts or in silviculture parlance: overstory removal. Neiman is a member of the Greedy Old Party and Neiman Enterprises is pretty much the last timber contractor standing in the Black Hills.

Prescriptive fires should have been set weeks ago on public lands in my home state of South Dakota but it's still suffering from repeated leadership lapses, a century of fire suppression, a decades-long moratorium on prescribed burns, a dearth of environmental litigators, GOP retrenchment and the potential for weaponized wildfire. Because of Republican Senator John Thune the cost of prescribed fire has soared to over $2000 an acre putting the BHNF and Wind Cave National Park in harm's way but in South Dakota local control is Republican control.

Recall that during a field hearing in Rapid City back in 2016 South Dakota's Republican junior US Senator Mike Rounds said, "I agree with the goals of the Endangered Species Act but I am concerned with the low success rate" so he wants to end the ESA. Fact is: according to the Center for Biological Diversity the ESA has been resoundingly successful until the Trump Organization, the Republican Party, Kristi Noem and South Dakota Game, Fish and Plunder (GF&P) declared war on the Earth.

The endangered pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, black footed ferret, northern long-eared bat, the black-backed woodpecker that feeds on bark beetles and a bird that actually walks underwater - the American dipper, are just a few at risk to the GOP. Threatened by the increased conversion of native prairie to cropland the most endangered plant in the chemical toilet that is South Dakota is the white-fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) found mainly in tallgrass prairies west of the Mississippi River.

Add the very high number of private inholdings within the BHNF that make the wildland urban interface (WUI) very large to one of the highest road densities in the entire national forest system and Region 2 to lots of grazing, logging, hardrock mining and pesticides like Carbaryl then understand why over a hundred species in South Dakota alone and a million worldwide are at risk to the Republican Party.

Carbaryl (1-naphthyl methylcarbamate) is a white crystalline solid commonly sold under the brand name Sevin®, a trademark of the Bayer Group. It kills beneficial insects like honeybees as well as crustaceans not to mention its havoc wreaked on fungal communities and amphibians. Sevin® is often produced using methyl isocyanate the chemical that Union Carbide used to kill thousands of people in Bhopal, India in 1984. Carbaryl has been used extensively on public ground around Neiman's Hill City sawmill contributing to Spring Creek’s perennial impairment.

Pinus ponderosa is not native to the Black Hills and only reached the region less than four thousand years ago. When the Custer Expedition came through the Black Hills bringing invasive cheatgrass for their horses stands of ponderosa pine were sparsely scattered but a century and a half of poor ranching and land management practices have created an unnatural overstory best controlled by the mountain pine beetle, prescribed fires, periodic wildfires, yes even mechanical treatments as long as no new roads are built and burns applied to stimulate hardwood release. Restoring and rewilding American ecosystems are parts of the Green New Deal.

The decisions for the Sioux Ranger District in northwest South Dakota on the Custer Gallatin National Forest are made in Bozeman, Montana, most of national grasslands in South Dakota are operated from Nebraska and Republican congressional delegations cut fat hogs bringing home the bacon for the timber and livestock industries. The collapse of select ecosystems on the BHNF was forecast in 2002 but now the entire Forest is at grave risk to the Neimans.
A draft general technical report (GTR) “Timber Growth and Yield in the Black Hills National Forest: A Changing Forest” has forest product industry leaders concerned. Jim Neiman, president and chief executive officer of Neiman Enterprises, which owns and operates several timber mills in the Black Hills, including Rushmore Forest Products located outside of Hill City, says if the draft is accepted there could be damage to both the forest itself and the local economy but remains hopeful there will be changes to the draft. “This highly anticipated report has us concerned,” Neiman said. “We are anticipating after our meeting on (May 1) that there will be some changes so that we can find an appropriate level of capacity to maintain all of the mills. I want to repeat it is of utmost importance for us to find a level of inventory in the forest that creates a resilient forest for all areas, if that is possible.”

Jerry Krueger, who is the acting forest supervisor for Black Hills National Forest, said concerns about the quality of the forest date back to 2015 pertaining to the mountain pine beetle epidemic and widespread mortality of the trees within the forest due to the epidemic, wildland fire and the current rate of timber harvest. “If you lose one of the sawmills, and I’m not going to say which one, that could have a domino effect on the towns,” Neiman said. [Logging industry fears possible cut could send waves]

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