Beetle Eradication Forces Black Hills Park Closure

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April 6, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Beetles close Black Hills campground

The Roubaix Lake campground and picnic area in South Dakota will be closed for several weeks as a Black Hills National Forest crew removes hundreds of trees infested by mountain pine beetles, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The closure, which could last until sometime in the second week in May, is one of many to come in the 1.2 million-acre federal forest. Crews will remove dead and dying trees near campgrounds and other recreation areas to reduce public hazards and fight the spread of pine beetles.

Crews also will be working in certain areas to spray protective insecticide on high-value “legacy” trees, some of which are 700 years old.

It’s also part of the ongoing battle against the pine beetle, which has already affected at least 400,000 acres in the forest and is plaguing state and private forest as well.

Black Hills National Forest spokesman Frank Carroll said Tuesday (April 5) that people planning to visit the national forest should be aware of the potential dangers. Even with tree removal, the spread of the beetles and the dead trees they leave behind will create more hazards, he said.

“The bottom line is no matter where they are in the forest, people need to be very careful around dead or dying trees,” Carroll said. “In the best of times, trees can blow over. But when you’ve got hundreds of thousands of dead standing trees, it can get quite dangerous.”

At Roubaix Lake, just off U.S. Highway 385 about 13 miles southeast of Deadwood, the Northern Hills District fire crew will remove about 400 trees that are dying or have died because of beetle damage. The project could keep the campground and other recreation facilities at the lake closed until May 13, although it might open sooner if work progresses without complications.

“We don’t want to inconvenience anyone, but this work is vital to providing a safe environment for the public to enjoy,” Northern Hills District Ranger Rhonda O’Byrne said Tuesday. “Cutting down trees is dangerous work. We need our crews to be fully engaged in completing the work. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

The closure includes the Roubaix campground, picnic area, beach and lake access area. Barricades will be placed on the access road to Roubaix Lake.

Along with similar tree-removal projects at other public-use forest areas, crews will be spraying an insecticide on legacy trees in high-priority areas. This year’s round of legacy tree spraying must be done before newly emerged beetles fly from infected trees to new trees this summer. Spraying will be planned according to the weather, in order to get the maximum benefit, Carroll said.

Rain can hurt the effectiveness of the spray. But if applied properly in the right conditions, it is effective at killing beetles and protecting trees, he said.

“When the beetles chew into the bark, it kills the beetles,” he said.

Spraying trees is too expensive to work on a larger scale, but it’s worth the cost to protect special stands of trees that are vital to aesthetics and essential to the forest, Carroll said.

“The oldest of these trees are more than 700 years old,” he said. “They’re the trees that have survived everything over the centuries. They’re a life source for the forest.”

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