Beetle spread slows in 2013 - KOTA Territory News

Beetle spread slows in 2013

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The U.S. Forest Service, South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) and Wyoming State Forestry Division today released the results of the annual aerial forest health survey on the Black Hills National Forest.  The aerial photography detection indicates that the rate of spread of the Mountain Pine Beetle has slowed due to a lower increase in newly affected acreage this year.

The Mountain Pine Beetle has affected approximately 430,000 acres since the outbreak began in 1996.  In 2013 analysts detected 34,000 affected acres of mountain pine beetle trees.  This compares to 31,000 acres in 2012.  The mountain pine beetle epidemic continues, however the rate of expansion is slowing.    

"We see encouraging declines in some areas but we need to stay vigilant with this epidemic.  We need to keep working with our partners to keep our forests green and more resilient to insects and damaging wildfire," said Craig Bobzien, Forest Supervisor.  Numerous agencies, forest products industry, private land owners and conservation leaders are implementing an "all lands" strategy to slow the spread of the mountain pine beetle.  "We are most effective when we work together across large landscapes, and ahead of the beetle infestations.  We're making a difference," said Bobzien.   

A variety of methods have been used to treat hundreds of thousands of trees including forest thinning, cut and chunk, prescribed fire and chemical spraying.

SDDA, Division of Resource Conservation and Forestry leaders have effectively reduced the spread of the beetle in Custer State Park and have worked closely with private landowners throughout the forest.  "While the U.S. Forest Service takes action on National Forest lands, the SDDA works with private landowners to help them meet their management objectives to achieve healthy forests," said Ray Sowers, South Dakota State Forester. 

Over the last three years, the state of Wyoming has invested approximately $4 million in mountain pine beetle detection, prevention and direct control in Crook and Weston Counties.  "I believe that we are seeing positive results on the ground from the efforts being put forth, and think that the coalition of local, state, and federal agencies, along with industry and other interested groups, is a model that we should replicate to promote forest management across the region," said Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forester.

Dave Thom, Black Hills Regional Mountain Pine Beetle Working Group Coordinator says, "In the last two years partners have treated infested or high risk trees on over 350,000 acres.  The work is making a difference.  The beetles don't know boundaries and it takes all of us working together to slow this epidemic."  The working group represents a comprehensive, all lands approach where Federal, State and County agencies are working with industry and private landowners to ensure treatments are at the right place at the right time. He added, "We are focusing our work in locations where the epidemic continues to be most active."

Thom also credits Federal and State Legislators, to include Governors from both South Dakota and Wyoming for their support in providing funds for the effort.

The complete survey results for the Rocky Mountain Region, including Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r2/forest-grasslandhealth.

Insect mapping was a cooperative effort between Neiman Timber Company, South Dakota Division of Resource Conservation and Forestry, State of Wyoming Forestry Division, Weston Natural Resource Conservation District, Weston County Weed & Pest, USDI-Bureau of Land Management, and the USDA-Forest Service

Additional information on Mountain Pine Beetles can be found at: http://www.beatthebeetles.com/.

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