Stories tagged forestry

Jun
21
2009

Use local firewood: Transporting firewood endangers ash trees
Use local firewood: Transporting firewood endangers ash treesCourtesy RoguePoet

Will ash trees follow the fate of elm trees?

About 30 years ago my neighbor's kid won a college scholarship for his sketch of the dead elm trees in front of my house marked with big red X's. Now I fear for the the giant ash trees across the street in Como Park.

Apparently the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) has been damaging our ash trees for years. The EAB were officially discovered in St. Paul's Hampdem Park mid May, 2009.

Minnesota has the second highest number of ash trees in the nation after Maine. Many of them were planted to replace trees lost to Dutch elm disease a generation ago.

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Where can I find information about the emerald ash borer?

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) website has excellent information. Another, multinational website with the lastest information about EAB is emeraldashborer.info. I also recommend the University of Minnesota Extension website page which answers questions about ash trees and emerald ash borer beetles.

Frequently asked questions are below (click on them to get answers)

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What is Saint Paul doing for its ash trees?

Park director Mike Hahm says Parks and Recreation will do everything we can to protect our tree canopy. Saint Paul has been preparing for this for some time. For over 5 years, we have been increasing the diversity of the tree species in Saint Paul and have not replaced or replanted Ash trees. A Pioneer Press article titled Protecting ash trees could cost St. Paul $2.8 million annually explains:

"Hahm plans to start a campaign of removing affected ash trees at a rate of 3,000 a year and replacing them with other trees the following spring. In St. Paul's St. Anthony neighborhood, 67 trees already have been cut down. Hahm said he plans to apply immediately for nearly $2.8 million in state and federal money to fight the infestation."

This link will take you to the St Paul website page on emerald ash borer info.

Nov
18
2008

Mountain pine beetle: download brochure by clicking on Forest Service
Mountain pine beetle: download brochure by clicking on Forest ServiceCourtesy US Forest Service

Why are all the trees dying?

Last summer I spent a week in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain National Park. One question was repeatedly being asked by visitors, "Why are all the trees dying?" In many places every lodgepole pine over five inches was dead as far as the eye could see. From the Mexican border all the way up into Canada millions and millions of acres of mountain pine forest are dead or dying.

Mountain Pine Beetles

A black, hard-shelled beetle called Dendroctunus, which means tree killer, drills through pine bark and lays its eggs in the sweet, rich cambium layer that provides nutrients to the tree. They also inject a fungus to stop the tree from moving sap, which could drown the larvae. Officials claim that this is the largest known insect infestation in the history of North America.

Why is this happening now?

Mountain Pine Beetles used to be mostly killed off by -30 to -40 degree below temperatures. That has not happened for about ten years. Eight years of drought also has weakened the trees and their ability to flush out invaders with sap flow.

Dead trees create problems

Dead trees will eventually fall down. This means removing millions of trees near homes and along roads and trails.

At Vail Ski Resort, for example, which has been particularly hard hit, workers have removed thousands of dead trees and planted new ones. In Yellowstone the beetles are killing the white-barked pine trees, which grow nuts rich in fat that are critical to grizzly bears in the fall. In Colorado and Wyoming, officials have closed 38 campgrounds for fear trees could fall on campers. They have reopened all but 14.

Wildfire is the biggest threat. Many homes and communities are surrounded by dry, dead trees. The Forest Service and logging companies are clear-cutting “defensible space” so firefighters have a place to fight fires. The amount of dead wood is overwhelming, though. Hopefully entrepreneurs will find ways to use it. I am afraid that what is left behind is not going to be very "scenic" for a long time.

Learn more about the mountain pine beetle infestation

Source article: New York Times
Video: Americas disappearing forests
US Forest Service: Regional bark beetle information
Denver Post editorial by Merrill Kaufmann: Battling the pine beetle epidemic
32 page teacher packet (pdf): Mountain Pine Beetle Mania