A decade ago, folks in northern states such as Minnesota, South and North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho were watching large swaths of their pine forests die off due to invasive pine beetles. The pine beetles bored beneath the bark of pine trees and introduced a fungus and larvae which weakened and then killed the trees.
Millions of pine trees were killed, prompting environmentalists and state and federal government agencies to link the invasive beetles to catastrophic-manmade-global-warming-by-carbon dioxide. Science Magazine warned that “Climate Change Sends Beetles Into Overdrive” (Mar. 16, 2012). The U.S. Forest Service launched numerous web pages under a “Bark Beetles and Climate Change in the United States” designation.
State and federal agencies collected and spent millions of dollars to mitigate the effects of the beetles. Several states amassed funds in designated ‘beetle epidemic’ accounts.
But colder weather accomplished what the agencies could not. Five years of harsh winters have mostly killed off the beetles in the north woods. Most foresters declared the end of the beetle epidemic around 2017. Almost no one seemed to link the END of the epidemic to earlier claims regarding a link to the CO2 apocalypse.
Now the State of South Dakota has $700,000 remaining in a ‘pine beetle fund’ which was never used. Last week the South Dakota legislature debated about what to do with the excess money. The debate was the topic of Tuesday’s top front page in the Rapid City Journal.