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Sen. Thune, Rep. Noem filing pine beetle bill

SD Sen. John Thune, Rep. Kristi Noem filing bill to speed up fight against pine beetles By The Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) ' Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem say they're introducing a bill that would allow the U.S. Forest Service to move faster when planning and carrying out programs to fight the mountain pine beetle infestation in the western South Dakota's Black Hills.

The two Republicans say the measure would require the U.S. agriculture secretary to respond to fire hazards caused by beetle infestations, disease and drought in national forests.

Thune says that under the bill, the Forest Service could declare emergencies in some areas to speed up environmental reviews and begin cutting or spraying trees, or conducting proscribed burns. The measure also would increase the size of areas where the expedited treatment could take place.

The senator says it also would promote cooperation between federal officials and private landowners.

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