Dan Gibbs suggests wood pellets as a use for Pine Beetle damaged trees.
One of many audience questions.
A large crowd gathers for Pine Beetle night.
Community Forum on the
Pine Beetle & Forest Health
Thursday, April 13th, 2006
The Keystone Center for Science & Public Policy
Panelists: Bob Berwyn, Dave Leatherman, Rick Newton, Carl Spaulding
Moderator: Howard Hallman
Bob Berwyn, a reporter for the Summit Daily News who has written extensively on the pine beetle infestation, opened the panel discussion by observing that environmental groups have an important role to play in determining solutions to the problem. People, who are part of the ecosystem, need to be active stewards in a forest environment. We need to assess at the role of fire in lodgepole pine forest management. With regard to the nutrient requirements of the forest, would removal of fuels damage the ecosystem?
Carl Spaulding, president of Colorado Timber Industry Association, described himself as a true environmentalist. A sustainable wood products industry requires a healthy forest. The planned harvest of timber is an effective tool to sustain healthy forest. Carl’s family started a sawmill operation in Ft. Collins. After President Jimmy Carter signed a bill affording wilderness designation to nearby national forests, the mill went out of business. Now he runs a company specializing in uses for wood by-products and sees an increasing demand for wood chips for biomass generators. While conceding that the timber industry has had a history of excessive clearcutting, it has an important role to play in forest maintenance. Our biggest threat is the contamination of watersheds following large wildfires.
David Leatherman, a recently retired entomologist from Colorado State University, has been studying the bark beetles since the time of his hiring in 1974. The mountain pine beetle is one of 1000 species of bark beetles that attack and kill pine trees. Neither good nor bad, the beetle must be looked at in terms its role in the ecosystem. The current infestation is more intense in scale because the forest is stressed by drought and lacks age diversity. The pine beetle has a one-year lifecycle. Each summer, a new generation of beetles flies out of trees in late July and early August and attack new trees laying eggs under the bark. The beetle feeds off of a small layer under the bark, which cuts off the water supply to the tree.
Bluestain in the wood of affected trees is caused by a fungus carried by the pine beetle, the purpose of which is not exactly known. It might be an important source of vitamins for the beetle. Trees attacked in July and August typically turn brown the following May and June. The best way to protect trees is to identify those without evidence of beetle attack. Pick your favorite half dozen or so trees and hire a professional to spray them with pesticide. Spraying larger stands may prove to be too expensive as well as environmentally unsound.
For trees that show outer signs of attack (pitch tubes, sawdust on the ground), examine under the bark for the evidence of insect galleries and remove those trees. When removed during the fall, trees can be cut into firewood and burned over the winter. When removed in the spring, logs should be cur into sections and wrapped in high grade clear plastic and the ends sealed to prevent insect escape. Position your covered logs in the sun and turn a quarter turn every two weeks to allow the entire circumference of the logs to heat up.
Rick Newton, the USFS district ranger for the Summit County area, has had considerable experience managing similar infestations in the Pacific Northwest and at Yellowstone National Park.
“This (the pine beetle infestation) is a bio-political issue” he commented, “as well as an environmental issue.”
Of the over 300,000 acres of public land in summit County, one half to one third are forested with lodgepole pine. We could not and should not try to treat all of these trees. The pine beetle infestation is a naturally occurring event that will dramatically change the look of our landscape. The Forest Service has a commitment to reduce the risk of wildfire by helping to create defensible space in the wildland-urban interface. The Dillon Ranger District is engaged in the development of Summit County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan and a participant in the Summit County Fire Council. It is currently evaluating fuel reduction project proposals seeking funding support from homeowners associations and other private interests.
Before asking the audience to pose questions to the panelists, moderator Howard Hallman recounted a remark from each panelist meriting further discussion.
Rick Newton: “This (pine beetle epidemic) is a natural process but also a bio-political issue. Dramatic changes to our landscape need aggressive action.”
David Leatherman: “We are protected by the forest, we protect the forest.”
Carl Spaulding: “Revitalize the timber industry and find common ground to work together.”
Bob Berwyn, “Don’t just do something, do the right thing. Work together, look for success stories.”
Many in the audience asked questions about technical, environmental and political aspects of the pine beetle infestation.
What can I do to save trees if I see beetles under the bark?
The tree is dead within a few weeks of attack. Look for external signs, then strip away some bark and look for galleries and blue stain. If you find beetles, remove that tree.
Which trees need spraying?
Spray trees larger than 8 inches in diameter. Spray the trunk up to 30 feet high or until tree narrows to a 6 inch diameter.
Are pine beetles discriminating? Can we identify which trees are most susceptible to attack?
For this infestation, the beetles are so populous that they are attacking healthy trees as well as weakened trees.
How far will beetles travel? They generally attack the closest susceptible tree, but do not fly more than a mile..
What will it take to create a wood products industry in this area?
A long term plan is needed to sustain any forest products industry. Decisions at the national level will influence any long term situation.
What can timber industry do to diversify there orientation such as looking at bio mass pellets?
We have to make the best use of the resource by getting the highest value for each harvested tree. Structural 2x4s are the most profitable; wood chips are good as a by-product but not profitable in and of themeselves.
What effect does cutting trees close to flight have on attracting beetles?
Fresh cut trees may attract beetles. Cut trees earlier in the season rather than later.
Why are there two deadlines for applying for abatement project permits from the Forest Service?
May 1 deadline is for first wave of projects. The July 1 deadline is designed to accommodate homeowners groups not ready by May 1. Additional funding may come on line later in the fiscal year.
What is the policy for homeowner associations to treat and clear trees in public land near home areas?
If you are ready to pay for the project in areas with completed environmental assesments, submit your proposal to the fire council for consideration.
Is there an evacuation plan for a large fire?
The Forest Service, along with local public safety and emergency responders, has a plan in place.
Commissioner Bob French explained that a reverse 911 alert system is noe operational. Residents must evacuate promptly once they receive the call. Any delay in evacuation slows our fire fighters.
Rick Newton was asked several questions concerning the possibilities for homeowners to spray or cut trees on public land in close proximity to homesites. He has the authority to permit treatment and removal of such trees once the environmental assessments are complete
What is the technique for solar treatment of infested trees?
Cut the infected trees by May 15 at the latest. Place log sections where they receive maximum solar exposure. Moisten the logs, seal them in a good grade of clear plastic for two months. Another technique involves rolling logs a quarter turn every every two Failure to do so may allow pine beetles to survive and infect other trees.
In Eagle County the Forest Service is charging for the value trees removed. Will that be an issue in Summit County?
The Forest Service will charge a nominal rate for any timber with commercial value.
Howard Hallman introduces the panel.
David Leatherman explains all you need
to know about Pine Beetles.
County Commissioner talks
plans in the event of a large fire.
Comments and questions can be directed to:
Howard Hallman, PO Box 209, Frisco, CO 80443
970-468-9134 or firstname.lastname@example.org