SIOUX FALLS - South Dakota Sens. Tim Johnson and John Thune have introduced legislation that would allow local communities to assume ownership of nine historic cemeteries in the Black Hills.

The cemeteries are currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service, but the communities have acted as caretakers for generations under special use permits issued by the government.

Thune says the current arrangement causes headaches for communities that have been managing the cemeteries and places unnecessary liability on the Forest Service.

Johnson says the so-called Black Hills Cemetery Act allows for a permit solution to the temporary special use permits.

The bill affects Englewood, Galena, Hayward, Mountain Meadows, Roubaix, Nemo, Rockerville, Silvery City and Cold Springs cemeteries.

All are pioneer-era cemeteries in the Black Hills.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.