Press "Enter" to skip to content

All Hail Kristi Noem, Killer of Pine Beetles!

Yup—as expected, Kristi Noem is taking credit for the end of the pine beetle epidemic:

Kristi Noem as Wonder Woman vanquishing pine beetles.
All our hopes are pinned upon you // and the magic that you do….

Just wanted to send you a quick note, as the Forest Service recently announced the pine beetle epidemic has ended.  While it’s an incredible accomplishment after a two-decade-long battle, work remains to make the Black Hills more resilient [Rep. Kristi Noem, e-mail, 2017.04.11].

Accomplishment—as in, something she accomplished, made happen.

When I brought U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to view the damage firsthand in November 2013, it was clear that we had the tools to combat the pine beetle, but we weren’t able to apply them on a large enough scale.  Reforms on the federal level were needed [Noem, 2017.04.11].

I’m feeling post hoc ergo propter hoc coming on….

Months later, we saw those reforms become law through provisions I helped write and fought to include in the 2014 Farm Bill [Noem, 2017.04.11].

Good thing Noem dilly-dallied for a year-plus on the Farm Bill she was supposed to get done in 2012 so she could include pine beetle measures in the delayed final product in 2014.

When the legislation passed, we were able to cut through environmental red tape, get boots on the ground faster, and allow the Forest Service to work on the scale this epidemic required. Around one million acres of the Black Hills National Forest benefited from the provisions. Additionally, we were able to prioritize the funding needed to help beat the beetle, which brings us to today [Noem, 2017.04.11].

Translation: Government spent more money, and that’s good!

Note also the code: a million acres “benefited”… but does that mean exclusively “got rid of pine beetles”?

While the epidemic has technically ended, years of damage have turned much of the Black Hills into a tinder box.  Additional efforts are needed to restore this National Forest and ensure it is resilient toward such threats in the future [Noem, 2017.04.11].

Translation: Government should spend even more money in the Black Hills! Yay, government! I agree that government has an important role in protecting the Black Hills with the Resilient Landscapes Project, but boy, Kristi, that “R” around your neck must get heavy when you want to run for Governor in South Dakota!

As heavy as her fiscal inconsistency will be Noem’s climatological consistency: if she wants to protect the Hills from future infestations, she may have to acknowledge the connection between climate change and pine beetles and convince her President that fighting climate change isn’t a waste of money.

We are fortunate to have so many dedicated foresters working in the Black Hills throughout this time.  I’m proud to have been able to score some victories in support of their efforts and I remain dedicated to protecting the Black Hills [Noem, 2017.04.11].

Kristi scored those victories. Noem’s GOP primary opponent Marty Jackley could barely beat Joop Bollen to a plea bargain, but Kristi Noem beat the beetle!

Marty, you might want to remind Kristi how long pine beetle epidemics usually last:

The mountain pine beetle is a native species to the Black Hills. The first recorded epidemic in the Black Hills occurred from the late 1890s through the early 1900s. Epidemics also occurred in the 1930s, 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s, each lasting 8-13 years. This most recent epidemic may have been the worst and lasted for the past 20 years [Mark Watson, “BH Nat. Forest: Pine Beetle Epidemic Is Over,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2017.04.01].

The recent pine beetle infestation lasted at least three years longer than past infestations before the first action Noem says she took in 2013. Even with her action, this round of pine beetles lasted twice as long as average. If that’s a victory, I’d hate to see what a Kristi Noem defeat looks like.

Wait, I take that back….


  1. Joe Nelson 2017-04-11 23:16

    I, for one, welcome our beetle slaying champion as Governer.

  2. grudznick 2017-04-11 23:30

    That is a really swell picture of Ms. Noem. If she puts that on posters and signs it will be tough for Mr. Jackley to compete. He is slaying the E-B5 beasts and Ms. Noem is slaying The Beetle. This gives her even odds out here in the west of the big river and hill country. And that picture will really tip it in her favor.

  3. grudznick 2017-04-11 23:33

    If she wears that outfit on a horse and has Mr. Rhoden as a sidekick, it’s all over.

  4. Rorschach 2017-04-12 01:18

    If she’s elected governor and the beetle infestation recurs whose fault will it be? Barack Obama of course. Or whichever Democrat replaces Trump in 2021.

    If there’s a fire that burns through all of the dead timber in the black hills whose fault will it be? Barack Obama of course.

    GOP Party finger pointing is pretty easy to predict. Next they’ll blame Barack Obama because Trump spends 10 times as much as Obama did for personal security and golf vacations.

  5. jerry 2017-04-12 01:49

    Of course, NOem and the tourist industry see no value of the Pine Beetle for a healthy forest. When Yellowstone burned some years ago, the tourist industry was crying croc tears about why the Foresters allowed the burn to continue. It is because, they are educated and know the value of what dead trees bring to the table. They see ugliness while others see nature. I say give The Black Hills all back to the ones they were stolen from so nature can work its wonders.

    Democrats, find the courage to bring out a candidate to run against these two fools. Bring that candidate out that will take them on to bring light to the sorry way they conduct themselves. If the candidate looses, run him or her again for another high profile office. Trick is to expose the corruption and failure for all to see while staying above the fray.

  6. Joe Nelson 2017-04-12 01:52

    Have the SD Democrats propped anyone up yet to replace Noem or Dauguard? I would love to see who they suggest. Even though I am not a registered Democrat, and would be nice to see a solid showing from them this upcoming round of elections.

  7. Steve Hickey 2017-04-12 05:26

    Why aren’t your female ideological comrades reading you the riot act for these sexualised posts on Noem, and photo-shopped images? Dakota Free Press should have a different standard and “break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room” not join it.

    Grudz is known for his like-clockwork comments about attractive females in politics. You are appealing here to his types, and to the types of those who once told me (when I ran briefly in 2010/11 for the House seat with Noem) that “it takes a skirt to beat her” (remember it became Herseth-Sandlin v Noem that year). BTW, the next comment to me (from Patrick Davis btw, who was advising my campaign at the time) was: “Steve, this is now a beauty contest and you can’t compete.”

    I dropped out a day later.

    It should be the case that such comments and photo-shopped parodies are entirely off limits. As is though, and sadly for inspiring IR/Poli-Sci grads like my daughter is that it is still the case that how women look/dress is as important as anything they say or believe. A conservative women is sexualised by the left more than a liberal woman is sexualised by the right.

    To finish the Patrick Davis story… a week later he was working for Noem. He told me: “In politics, you have to go with what will be.” I’ve thought long and hard about that piece of crap advice since that day. Sometimes we have to go against what will be, or we lose our integrity. I’ve tried to keep mine in tact.

    Patrick going with Bosworth made sense to me. Him sticking so long with her, enabling and aiding her to exploit tens of thousands of good (and clueless) Republican donors nationwide to fund her fiascos – should make us all sigh.

  8. mike from iowa 2017-04-12 07:07

    All it took was government money and science. Not once did she praise god, She is unelectable and that outfit is not one a badly used female of her years should be caught dead in. No matter how it got there.

    I’m guessing the Taterater w/Gravy, Grudz would grab that kitty.

  9. jerry 2017-04-12 07:38

    Have not seen anyone the Democrats want to put forward yet. I would say Joe Lowe as a Democrat would be a great choice for governor. It is one of those things that John T. is a republican, else he would be a good choice as well. The election down in Kansas in a ruby red district should show that folks are ready to move on. The Democrat, first off, was a new guy and he damned near beat the establishment dude. When you get within 9 points, ya have a horse race, especially there. In South Dakota, being a republican is always considered a shoo in, maybe since trump, not so much if you can run on his record.

  10. Don Coyote 2017-04-12 10:20

    @Jerry: “and he damned near beat the establishment dude.”

    The real story in Kansas isn’t that the Democrat did so well but that the Republican, who was the state treasurer caught up in state budget issues, was a horrible candidate who wasn’t well liked by the Republican base and who ran a crappy campaign did so poorly. And yet he still managed to defeat a Bernie Sanders pop-socialist clone.

    Also an open seat will usually have a tighter spread than one with an incumbent. Bill Janklow, a popular governor, only managed to beat Herseth by 8% in 2002.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-04-12 12:11

    Conservatives only give a hoot about liberal critiques of sexism when those critiques serve their temporary slam purposes. Boo hoo.

    And what sexualization? That’s Wonder Woman, dressed for battle! Of course, she did stick that sword through that beetle, so maybe the image confuses gender roles… ah! maybe that’s what really makes Hickey uneasy. :-D

  12. mike from iowa 2017-04-12 12:12

    Wingnuts brought in Drumpf, Pence and Cruz and held fundraisers to boost the disgusting wingnut candidate. Like wingnut pols said- winning is all that matters. They can’t continue to screw Kansas and Kansans in the ground if they aren’t in charge.

  13. Roger Cornelius 2017-04-12 12:40

    Now we know why Kristi hasn’t had time for town halls, she’s been stomping out beetles in the Black Hills.

  14. Dana P 2017-04-12 13:08

    Ok Hickey. I’ll “read Cory the riot act”….. Dear Cory, keep up the good work! Calling it as you see it!


    a female ideological comrade

    PS – nothing offensive here. Nothing at all. Move along

  15. Donald Pay 2017-04-12 13:52

    I can’t figure out why a politician would take any credit for the natural population fluctuations of an insect in its natural habitat. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

    It’s been clear through this entire 20-year outbreak that the beetle was and is far smarter than the dippy Homo sapiens republicanae who put out this and countless other press releases over the last generation. Over that span of years one Republican politician after another have suggested plans and pointed fingers, but that little beetle didn’t seem to care. Even Democratic Senators who knew better thought they had to pretend they were that dumb, too. Nothing those politicians did, nothing the forest managers implemented, none of it made a damn bit of difference to the beetle. The beetle just did its thing, munching its way through pine trees, reproducing, spreading fungus, killing off pine tree (reducing its preferred environment), and reducing its population after a 20 year run through a pine forest. If anything has been proved right here it’s classic ecological theory, not some puffed-up politicians trying to claim that they were smarter than the beetle.

    Now we have, of course, these dumber-than-the-beetle politicians suggesting more bright ideas for managing the forest. “Ha,” laughs the beetle. It just shakes its head.

  16. Jenny 2017-04-12 14:14

    This is pretty lame, Steve, compared to some of the other sexualized images of women out there.
    Trust me, if Cory put anything out there that was demeaning to women he would hear about it from me!

  17. jerry 2017-04-12 15:24

    I followed your logic and came to the conclusion that Janklow was not as popular as you made him to be. 8% is slim pickens and that was my point, thanks

  18. grudznick 2017-04-12 18:12

    Thank you for the words, Mr. Hickey. I do appreciate it.

  19. Moses6 2017-04-12 21:59

    Jerry Thune for Governor give me a break.Photo ops and basketball games is all he can get done.None of these people wont even hold a town hall meeting in Sioux Falls to hear the people out and they represent South Dakota.What ya smokin?

  20. jerry 2017-04-13 01:03

    Sorry for the confusion. I put John T. down for John Tsitrian as I have difficulty remembering how to spell his name. John Tsitrian is a republican that should not be, as the party he is a part of has completely gone back to the days of open fascism I think he would make a good governor or one helluva chief of staff. I also think he could be a fair and honest one as well. One thing is for sure, we need someone who can take a balance sheet and understand what it means in both the short term as well as the long term. The state needs to have someone who understands what is going on in Ag country, other than its demise.

    Regarding John Thune, well, I have no trouble spelling his name. I rhyme it with buffoon.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-04-13 09:16

    Joe, on proppage, see the impending gubernatorial launch by Billie Sutton.

  22. jerry 2017-04-13 09:29

    Wow, that would be a good deal with Billie Sutton. As the republican cabal in Pierre has given us 2 more months of negativity in the financial reports, we need to acknowledge that their way ain’t working. Only a Democrat can fix finances as they can add and subtract.

  23. mike from iowa 2017-04-13 10:05

    Wingnuts have a habit of giving America’s resources away for a pitiful royalty payment and a yooge campaign contribution.

  24. Wayne 2017-04-13 12:03

    Wow, apparently you have know idea how things work in Washington. She is one voice and has to work with those in power to get things done. I am not saying she is the savior of the forest, but you are being overly harsh to someone you don’t like, because she is a Republican. It is sad you can’t look at this story as a positive for the forest, but feel the need to make this a negative for one of our elected officials who helped make eradicating the pine beetle a priority.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-04-13 12:15

    Hey, Wayne, she’s the one claiming credit for the recession of a natural phenomenon. Her claim is the more extravagant; mine is the more reasonable. Her claim is the less coherent with her own campaign slogans about government being bad.

  26. mike from iowa 2017-04-13 12:49

    Noem has to work with those in power which happen to be hundreds of other Noems of the same political party, plus a wingnut bogus potus and a wingnut (again) activist Scotus.

    Daunting odds, those. She prolly deserves special compensation for being a lone voice in a sea of red allies.

  27. Donald Pay 2017-04-13 14:49

    At any rate, parts of the Resiliency Landscape Project look really good, which is change from the past. The idea of hitching forest management to the ecological idea of patch dynamics is particularly interesting to me. Healthy forests are those that have a natural amount of natural disturbance, fire or insect., that create patches. Timber harvesting can create a different kind of unnatural disturbance that may or may not be good for the forest. As always, the problem will be which trees get cut, and just from a cursory look, it isn’t all that much different under this concept than it has before. They keep wanting to cut the mature forests, which limits the development of “old growth,” though “old growth” is a term of art in pine forests.

    I’ll have to look into this more closely.

  28. John W 2017-04-13 22:05

    Noem’s victory speeches are an insult to anyone who has any biological or ecological acumen at all. Her beetle farce is nearly as bad as Wind Cave’s elk slaughter to allegedly control Chronic Wasting Disease. What we have here is a wholesale evacuation of science in favor of political grandstanding. Noem no more had anything to do with the natural population dynamics of the Mt. Pine Beetle than Donald Trump. And Wind Cave decimated an elk herd to achieve an artificial population using slight of hand research in a scientific attempt to control a non-density dependent disease. The only credit these types of people get is spending huge sums of taxpayers money for nothing but appearances. And the most pathetic part of it all is that there is a public out there that just soaks up the fiction like Grimms Fairy Tales.

  29. mike from iowa 2020-10-13 10:47

    From another blog spot, yesterday, I found this from a guy who lives about 4 ridges away from California’s big forest fire….

    dinthebeast said…
    Climate change brought the drought, the drought brought the bark beetles and this is from the “Fuels involved” tab on the InciWeb page about the Creek fire, about four ridges east of here:

    “The fire is in an area of extreme bark beetle tree mortality. The fuels in the area consist of large expanses of beetle killed timber, 80-90 percent of the stand. The fuel loading in the timber is estimated at 2,000 tons an acre. The brush in the area is at critical fuel moisture levels. Thousand hour fuels are at 6 percent moisture level.”

    My dad worked for the US Forest Service in northern California for thirty years, and it didn’t used to be like this.

    -Doug in Sugar Pine

    Moar fireworks on the Black Hills, anyone?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.