GCCHLA - Pine Beetle Mitigation - Bill Sanders
Mountain Pine Beetles:Year
#5 of the 7?-year cycle occurs in 2002. In Spring Gulch (aka Batalle
Gulch) 2001 wasn't as bad as the previous years, because Otto VanGeet,
Laurie Beckel, Bob Musemechi, Todd & Amina Morrison, Larry Kramer,
Don DeVore, Craig Wandrey, Marci, and I removed and treated about 20
infected trees before the beasties flew each Aug. We failed to get a
couple last year; we'll know in a few months how much damage was done.
Prevention & Treatment
Let's compute. Each infected tree infects 4-5 more the following year:
That's got to be almost half the ponderosa in the valley. And these
calculations (a) round down, (b) assume that we don't treat any more,
and (c) stop after five years. So 3000 is not an exaggeration: in addition to "Beetle Kill Hill", we could have had "Beetle Mulch Gulch".
|9 X 4 = 36 trees saved in 2000;
35 saved + 10 more treated X 4 = 180 trees saved in 2001;
180 + 4 more treated X 4 = 700+ saved in 2002;
700 X ?? treated = > 3000 trees saved in 2003.
We should do four things before late July of each year:
But the Forest Service has told me to quit independent operations with
their trees. So on public land, we've got to get step #2
(identification) done early enough so that I can lean on the elephant
and promote action before August 1st. (Hard in any case; virtually
impossible if the fire season's bad, because the one ranger in charge
of it will be super busy.)
- Remove trees felled and treated last year.
- Find and mark trees infected last year (for removal this year).
- Fell and treat those trees.
- Spray preventively (to minimize the damage next year).
Let's look at each task.
Remove Treated Trees
Anything you sprayed and wrapped last year, can be removed at any time.
If you are treating them with sunlight rather than spraying
(ecologically preferred, but not as effective), don't remove them until
summer, but turn them in Jan and May. Each time, uncover, rotate the
logs 120 degrees, re-wrap them. Then remove them no earlier than late
July. [Note: Remember which way you turned them in Jan., so you continue (not reverse) the process in May.]
Find & Mark Infected Trees
Keep an eye out for suspicious trees. You can look for the tell-tale
"popcorns" now; the needles should turn rusty-then-dull brown starting
in late spring. Keep an eye out for suspicious trees; Marci and I carry
surveyor's tape in car and fanny pack in order to mark them. Do this early, so I can plead our case with USFS.
Fell & Treat Infected Trees
Do this no later than early August. (We were able to push the envelope
last year because it was cool and wet; even so, we were late on a
couple trees.) Take the following steps:
Remember: I have to be able to assure the USFS that I didn't see any cutting on FS land.
- Be sure the tree really is infected and that the infection is current:
- Popcorns alone are not conclusive (they may be old, or the tree could have spit the beasties out).
wood (the beetle-introduced fungus that actually killed the tree) is a
better guide -- but it, too, could be from a previous year.
- Needles that have gradually browned during Spring and
Summer are even more persuasive -- but we found three trees last year
that died from other causes during the same time period.
- Absolutely conclusive are the grubs; look under the bark
near the entry popcorn. They are the offspring of the beetles that
killed that tree; and when they fly in August, they will infect several
- Cut the tree down. Section it to preference
(5-6 foot lengths are the easiest to treat and wrap; only other
consideration is size of fireplace). Only the first 12 feet of trunk
and branches larger than 5-6 inches in diameter need to be treated in
- (Optional) Spray the outside of the infected portions thoroughly
if you want beetle protection over ecology. Lindane is the best, but it
won't be available much longer. If you skip this step, take extra
precautions at steps #4 & 5.
- Whether or not you spray, wrap the infected portions securely to withstand the wind. Use clear, 6 mil plastic and high-quality duct tape. If you didn't spray, debark, wrap to withstand a year of YG wind, rain, and snow, and choose a sunny spot.
wrapped tree remain until at least October if sprayed, until next
August if the sunlight method is used. If not sprayed, unwrap, turn
logs 120o, and rewrap in Dec/Jan and again in May. If you
remembered which way you turned the logs in Jan, the May rotation gets
all portions of the trunk exposed to the UV of the sun.
This works; our homesite is directly downwind of
the infected tree we didn't get out in time in 1999, and everything we
sprayed, we saved, even though two had been stressed by an excavator
with a heavy hand. (We lost other trees in the path of the infected
one, but none of the ones we chose to save.) Give preference to trees
that are important to you, particularly ones that have been stressed.
The spray (Sevin) is supposed to be effective for several months, but
there's no reason to field test that claim. Wait until summer, but be
sure to have the job done before the insects swarm in early August.
Spray 12 feet up the trunk and any branches larger than 4-6 inches in
A good source of information is the State Forest Service page on CSU's Website (http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CSFS/mpb2.pdf) -- but you'll need the Acrobat Viewer to access it. Click here to download the viewer from Adobe's site.