Beetles attack Santa Fe pine forests

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at
Wed Nov 26 23:43:54 EST 2003

Monday, November 24, 2003   San Francisco Chronicle

Beetles attack Santa Fe pine forests 

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A cousin of the bark beetles that are attacking
pinon trees in northern New Mexico is feasting on ponderosa pines in
the Santa Fe National Forest.

The forest has hired a logging company -- Jemez Mountain Forest
Products -- to thin about 100 acres in the Redondo campground in the
Jemez Mountains west of Santa Fe this winter to fight the problem.

"We're hoping to stop it here so it doesn't take hold and take off up
the mountain," said Tom Malecek, timber staff officer of the forest.

Bark beetles killed more than 300 large ponderosa pine trees last year
at the Paliza campground on the southwest side of the Jemez Mountains,
and foresters are beginning to see more sick and dying pine trees in
other areas of the Jemez.

The federal government is paying Jemez Mountain Forest Products about
$550 per acre to thin the campground.

The company's owner, Larry Garcia of Jemez Springs, also will be able
to sell wood products from about 250,000 board-feet of saw timber from
cutting from campground trees 9 inches in diameter or larger.

He said he expects to complete the project in February. 

The thinning project is the first so-called "stewardship contract" in
the U.S. Forest Service's New Mexico-Arizona region under President
Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative, which lets loggers take some larger
trees to offset costs they incur thinning smaller, unwanted trees to
reduce fire danger and improve forest health.

Environmentalists say, however, that removing larger trees increases
fire danger.

Trees that the Jemez loggers can cut down have been sprayed with blue
paint. Many of those trees are sick from bark beetle infestation or
from overcrowding from other trees.

"Generally, we mark the suppressed, dead or dying trees," Malecek
said. "You don't want to take the big, healthy trees. We're not taking
the big yellow-bellied trees that are growing good."

After the logging, the campground's trees should grow large and
healthy because they will have less competition for water, sunlight
and space, said Ronnie Herrera, timber staff officer for the Jemez

Comment from poster: It's the same old story of "ancient forests" not
surviving merely moderate droughts. Too many trees in the forest
stealing water from the olf growth. Burning off just the saplings does
very little to alleviate drought brought on by forest overcrowding. Of
course, the folks in alt.forestry already know this. Controlled
burning alone cannot accomplish what is needed in our National
Forests. However, someday in the distant future, when the last piece
of Federal timberland ( that actually needs work ) is treated and can
have a more natural fire regime, Americans will look back and wonder
how we could let our forest eco-systems get into such bad shape.

Larry,   Federal eco-forestry rules!

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