Beetles attack Santa Fe pine forests

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at
Sat Nov 29 10:16:35 EST 2003

quibbler <quibbler247 at> wrote in message news:<MPG.1a31e37b8781eb199896d3 at>...
> In article <7a90c754.0311262043.201b40b9 at>, 
> lhfotoware at says...
> > 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
> Wow, a forest can hire people to log itself?  

It's called a "service contract" to do work that is generally removing
unmerchantable materials. Sometimes there will be a timber sale
embedded in the service contract to deal with the small amounts of
merchantable timber that may be in the project area. This type of
project will become commonplace under the new bipartisan version of
"Healthy Forests".

Actually, I wish that the USFS could hire it's own loggers on
permanent status, so that contracted loggers would have no incentive
to "cut corners" on projects and we could just sell the logs right off
the landings. Yes, I know that there are some out there who think we
shouldn't sell ANY logs but, I think that it is better to make
something out of the wood rather than burning it and adding the CO2 to
the atmosphere.

> > -- 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,"
> How about using a pesticide?  It sounds like this approach is killing the 
> trees in order to "save them".

It has been studied and tried but there is no effective way of killing
the beetles over a large area. Beetles in pine forests tend to "bloom"
in numbers and overwhelm patches of pines. Only trees with plenty of
water can fend off the onslaught of bark beetles.
> > said Tom Malecek, timber staff officer of the forest.
> > 
> > Bark beetles killed more than 300 large ponderosa pine trees last year
> Gee, I wonder if the logging will kill more than 300 large ponderosa 
> pines this year.

On this particular project, I don't think they'll be cutting any
healthy trees. However, it's very likely that more trees will die that
don't appear infested right now. Also, those pesky bark beetles seem
to have an easier time killing old growth trees. Many huge trees did
not develop deep roots because water was plentiful before the white
man started putting fires out. Stocking levels were lower and forests
survived droughts and bark beetles and fires, too.

> > 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.
> So how is cutting 100 acres of trees going to affect a problem that may 
> be widespread?

DUH! It'll keep snags from falling on campers.
> > 
> > The federal government is paying Jemez Mountain Forest Products about
> > $550 per acre to thin the campground.
> So if they thin it won't that still leave the beetles other trees to eat?  
> How would this control the infestation?  Also, is it just a coincidence 
> that they are "thinning" around the campground?

The pines natural response to bark beetles is to "pitch" their eggs
out through the hole made by the bark beetle, resulting in "pitch
tubes". Healthy trees in a healthy forest have plenty of water to fend
off bark beetles, even in a drought year. Overstocked stands of
drought stressed trees are perfect for blooms of bugs to come in and
kill even 5-10 acres patches.

> > 
> > 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.
> At maybe 100 board feet per tree this is 2500 large trees killed by 
> logging in response to 300 large trees being killed by beetles.  The 
> loggers are almost an order of magnitude worse than the insects at the 
> moment.  

A 100 board foot tree is only about 13" dbh. For ponderosa pine,
that's not a very big tree. A very large dead pine can have 10,000
board feet in it.

> > 
> > 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."
> That's nice to hear, but I highly doubt that they are only cutting out 
> dead wood.  That doesn't make such good lumber.  

If cut promptly after dying, the wood is just like from a live tree.
It is usually worthless after being dead for 2 years. It sounds like
they're cutting the dead trees and thinning small live trees at the
same time. That's a good thing since you are only disturbing the soil
once and the stand should be ready for a regular burning program.
> > 
> > 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
> > district.
> Yeah, but what about the insect scourge?  

Salvage logging does very little to stop beetle infestations. All it
does is remove the merchantable fuels from dead and dying trees.
Returning forests to pre-white man stocking levels is the true path to
forest restoration and survivability. Returning a regular fire regime
to that stand will maintain its health and vigor. Short of fencing off
the forest and keeping man out for hundreds of years, this is the way
that will best simulate some natural processes.
> > 
> > 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.
> Do doubt some thinning needs to be done.  However, that has nothing to do 
> with the nominal excuse about the insects.  

Why not get two jobs done in one entry? Any bug-infested forest needs
thinning. However, not all infested forests will get thinned.
> > Of
> > course, the folks in alt.forestry already know this. Controlled
> > burning alone cannot accomplish what is needed in our National
> > Forests.
> Gee, you mean that forests can't survive without the help of man?  Get 
> real.  They've been around longer than we have.  

And gee, if we could eliminate man from the forest altogether, in 500
years we'd have "pristene" forests again. We've seen what 10 years of
no logging on the San Bernardino can do. We haven't seen what is yet
to come there with hundreds of thousands of dead old groth trees
ringing Big Bear Lake.

Man has screwed up our forest ecosystems in the past. We can
accelerate its recovery or we can let "nature" rebalance them in ways
we don't like. Are you willing to "let" endangered species habitat
burn catastrophically?!? Are you wlling to "let" irreplaceable
historical sites burn to the ground?!? are you going to "let"
bug-infested trees die along power lines and roads?
> > 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.
> Yeah, sure.  

I'm sceptical, myself. This will take decades for the initial
treatment and a dedicated program to maintain healthy forests through
controlled burns.
> > Larry,   Federal eco-forestry rules!
> Too bad that's not what they're practicing.  

You're not looking in the right place, then. I've worked on thinning
projects that didn't cut old growth and used trees down to 9" dbh and
keeping the tree spacing at less than 30x30' triangular spacing. The
project also protected all streamcourses with buffer zones and stayed
out of spotted owl PACs.

Give me YOUR definition of "eco-forestry", bud.

Larry,      a true environmentalist

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