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Forum Index -> Trail Talk -> Pine beetle de-forestation
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Chief Joseph
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:27 pm    Pine beetle de-forestation
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The newest info I could find was from 2008, http://www.newsweek.com/2008/07/21/beetlemania.html anyone have any updated info?

The utter devastation and the inability of modern technology to be able to stop this is unsettling. Is the problem partly due to lack of predators, such as birds to help combat this problem?

How did this infestation originate and what are the chances that it could spread to other states, especially Idaho and Wa?

So far it seems to be Colorado and Wyoming forests that are affected, but what happens when they run out of food there?



Could be us...., dancing around a tree that is no longer there.

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Schroder
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:38 pm   
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The Spruce Beetle has already been here for a while. Go up the Cle Elum River and you'll get a good look at the damage.
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Allison
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:44 pm   
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It's largely a global warming problem, and no, we can't do anything about it now. That ship has sailed.
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Grannyhiker
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:35 pm   
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A lot of it has to do with most of the lodgepole forests now being over-mature and thus very vulnerable to the bark beetle.  This has happened before, but not on this massive scale.  Another bark beetle, the Engelmann Spruce bark beetle, devastated much of the higher elevation forest in western Colorado in the late 1940's.

Before the white man started putting out all forest fires, the American Indians used to burn the lodgepole forests on a regular basis.  The natural succession in the Rockies after a fire is aspen groves and then lodgepole pine.  Aspen groves are  far better wild game habitat, which is of course what the Indians were aiming for.  This practice at least cut back on the bark beetle plagues.  While some good fires while the beetles are in the trees would undoubtedly help, for the most part that isn't feasible these days.

It isn't just Wyoming and Colorado but the whole Rocky Mountain and Intermountain region.  Canada is also suffering.  The beetles could reach the east slope of the Cascades, too.

Pesticides don't do much good when the beetles are hiding under the tree bark.  There is a pheromone that the beetles secrete when they attack a tree, which tells others, "This is our tree; go away!"  It can be used to protect a few critical groves but is far too expensive to use on a widespread basis.

Some think global warming is responsible because it takes quite a few days at 40* below to kill the beetles hiding under the tree bark.  However, the earth has had these climatic variations before.  Geologists say that all the glaciers in Wyoming's Wind River Range melted about 5,000 years ago, and all the glaciers currently there formed since that time.  Then, of course, there was the medieval warming period during which agriculture was possible in Greenland.  Probably there were massive bark beetle plagues in the West then, too, but nobody recorded them.

In many cases the young trees, especially those in meadows, are being spared.  Once the beetles have died out or moved on for lack of food, the forests will regrow (not in my lifetime but probably in my grandchildren's).  Here's a photo I took in 2008 in Northern Colorado, showing the dead forest with healthy young trees in the foreground:


Note that once you get up around timberline, above the levels that lodgepole pine grow, the scenery is unimpaired.  I'm certainly not avoiding the region because of the dead trees.  After you've been there a few days, you learn to look past them to the magnificent beauty that is still there!

Looking up Washakie Creek to the back side of the Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming's Wind Rivers:

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey
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Slugman
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:42 pm   
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How come no one uses the Stewardship forum for stewardship topics? This is not meant as a shot at CJ, just an overall comment to anyone/everyone.

I guess I've discovered a new pet peeve!  doh.gif  doh.gif  No, I have too many already.  dizzy.gif

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BigBear
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:44 pm   
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It has nothing to do with global warming, Grannyhiker has it right.
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BeyondLost
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:55 pm   
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Just drive the North Cascade Hwy and look at the brown tree belts from spruce budworm. The Tussock Fir moths are predicted by USFS and BLM entomologists to kill 50% of fir trees in many areas this year.
There are biological sprays with a natural virus that destroys the larvae but budgetary restraints prevent widespread use. About 200 of us in the Methow Valley are organizing for such a private property spraying in about 10-14 days when the larvae are at the ideal stage.
The product that will be used is an organic Bt formulation called Foray 48B.  As excerpted from the Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth in the Interior West brochure provided by the US Department of Agriculture and Forest Service, the basic Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), is “an environmentally safe bacterium specific to Lepidoptera larvae … used in sensitive areas such as campgrounds or along riparian areas where chemical use is restricted or prohibited”.  You can obtain more information about the organic Bt called Foray 48B online at http://www.valentbiosciences.com//learning_center/
learning_center.asp?lc_section=forestry&flash=Foray.


Here's a close up pic of the newly hatching tussock fir larvae from two days ago.


The Tussock moths are cyclical but many of the other beetles are temperature related.
http://www.cgc.uaf.edu/newsletter/gg6_1/beetles.html

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"If you rest you rust."  Helen Hayes
"I would rather wear out then rust out." Helen Klein
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Grannyhiker
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:56 pm   
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I thought this had to do with stewardship, since it's definitely a conservation issue.  It seems to have been moved between my first post and this one.

I did not say that global warming has nothing to do with the beetles--on the contrary, I pointed out that the fewer number of -40* days each winter definitely contribute to the plague!

Beyond Lost, the Bt (Bacillus thuringensis) spray may spare butterflies, but it is devastating to honeybees and related essential pollinators.  Please be sure to notify any beekeepers and alfalfa farmers (who often use leaf-cutter bee colonies as pollinators) in the widespread area before you do any spraying!

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey
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BigBear
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:01 pm   
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40 degrees below? Since when has it ever been that cold during the winter here in the last 100 years?
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Malachai Constant
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:02 pm   
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People avoid the stewardship forum like the plague because they do not want to be attacked by the same 2 or 3 people who will post until the cows come home if anyone suggest that there is global warming or that it is a problem  A few do but playing whack a mole on a hiking forum is not fun for most sane folk, certainly not me. huh.gif

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Slugman
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:10 pm   
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From Wikipedia:

Temperatures down to −30 °C to −40 °C (−22 °F to −40 °F) for at least several days, or at least twelve hours of −40 or lower, kills most mountain pine beetles.

Now, it's a good question to ask how often this temperature range may occur. It doesn't seem that far fetched that the temperature might go below -40 on even one night in a winter, especially at higher elevations. If it happened just once in a several-year period, it seems like it would hold down the worst of the infestations over time, by setting the beetle population way back. But I am just guessing here.

Big bear: are you including eastern Washington at high elevations? How high do these forests grow? (I don't know that answer).

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I get a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I see parents taking their kids on backpacking trips, while at the same time wishing they would go away - Slugman

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Allison
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:29 pm   
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BigBear wrote:
It has nothing to do with global warming.

It has amount to do with it. I'm too lazy to do your homework on this, but a quick Google search will get you pointed in the right direction.

About ten years ago, I called up my dad and asked him about the dramatic increase in foreast fires, and about pine beetles in general. Now mind you, my dad is not exactly a tree-hugger, and he deals in recently deceased trees for a living. He said "global warming, plain and simple. Look it up."

So I did, and he was right.
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Quark
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:41 pm   
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Slugman wrote:
Big bear: are you including eastern Washington at high elevations? How high do these forests grow? (I don't know that answer).

Copper Butte is the highest peak in the Kettle Range, and is a bit over 7000' , which is not above treeline for the area.

40 below - not sure about that, especially for the prolonged period of time for a successful kill. That's pretty goddam cold.

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joker
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:46 pm   
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Effects of Climate Change on Range Expansion by the Mountain Pine Beetle in British Columbia (includes a nice rundown of the factors that lead to "climatic suitability" for the pine beetle - it's not as simple as whether or not it gets below -40...)
Changing temperatures influence suitability for modeled mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) outbreaks in the western United States (I guess the good news here is that their model, which did a good job of "predicting" past range expansions of the beetle based on climate changes, also predicts that we'll eventually see temperatures rise enough that the beetle population will decline  frown.gif )
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BeyondLost
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Post Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:53 pm   
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According to this just a hard freeze at the right time in spring or fall kills the larvae. And  -30 does it if sustained in mid winter.
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05528.html

Quote:
Extreme cold temperatures also can reduce MPB populations. For winter mortality to be a significant factor, a severe freeze is necessary while the insect is in its most vulnerable stage; i.e., in the fall before the larvae have metabolized glycerols, or in late spring when the insect is molting into the pupal stage. For freezing temperatures to affect a large number of larvae during the middle of winter, temperatures of at least 30 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) must be sustained for at least five days.



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"If you rest you rust."  Helen Hayes
"I would rather wear out then rust out." Helen Klein
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