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Montana Campgrounds Fighting Pine Beetle

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June 19, 2013 by   - () 1 Comment

Aerial view showing the heavily wooded areas in and around the campgrounds on Lake Como in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana where the U.S. Forest Service is spraying to fend off mountain pine beetles. Photo courtesy of Google Earth

Click here to watch a video on the following story courtesy of KEPI-TV, Missoula, Mont.

The U.S. Forest Service is spraying mature pine trees with insecticide at Lake Como campgrounds on the Bitterroot National Forest, north of Darby, Mont. It's an effort to prevent mountain pine beetles kills.

The service sprayed Carbaryl on these same trees two years ago, and they remain healthy. The chemical is almost 100% effective. But it wears off after a couple years.

About 1,200 trees at Como and 600 in other campgrounds are getting a second dos

Spray crews aim their spray nozzles as high as they can, and brush all the way down till the trunk is soaked.

Lodgepole and ponderosa pines are a mountain pine beetles favorite food.

Individual trees have already been selected and marked.

"These trees are 100 to 300 years old," said forester Corinne Anderson. "They're giant ponderosa pines."

The beetles should be flying in a couple weeks, so the trees need to be sprayed before July 1.

If the beetles boar into a tree that's been treated, they will ingest the Carbaryl and die.

Workers move quickly. They hope to get all 1,200 trees sprayed in two days. It's a workout.

"It keeps the blood flowing and keeps the bugs off the trees," said sprayer Garret Smith.

The region's most popular recreation area is also a hot spot for pine beetles. Many trees on the ridge overlooking Lake Como have already been hit, and won't survive.

Carbaryl is a common insecticide used in forests, range ground, commercial agriculture and home gardens.

This spray project costs $25,000.

"In addition to the Carbaryl we use a pheromone patch too," said Forest Service planning officer Jerry Krueger. It tells the beetle to go away, there's no vacancy in this tree.

There's a third approach to managing the rec area. The Forest Service is thinning trees too.

"If you walk down the middle of this forest it's just majestic," said Anderson.

But critics said chemical sprays are never healthy, and pine beetles are ancient Montana natives just doing a job.

Silviculturist Jerry Krueger said that is true. "They're part of the natural function of the forest ecology," he said.

The beetles are cyclical. They may be at their peak in the Bitterroot. "Which is why we're trying to be very diligent in taking care of these special places like Lake Como," said Krueger.

Over the next two years, the Forest Service will monitor these trees to see how well they weather the beetle infestation.

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Comments

One Response to “Montana Campgrounds Fighting Pine Beetle”

  1. Michelle Brown on May 26th, 2014 7:20 pm

    Insecticides affect all insects alike, good and bad. Our bee, lady beetle, and butterfly and other positive insect populations are at an all-time low. Why spray everything? Instead cultivate a habitat that support birds, lizards that feed on these beetles. Our forest service needs to stop spraying Round Up – I see it in the park, the spraying while people are playing games, children are playing and the elderly walk. We don't need more chemicals in our lives, we need LESS. We can live with a few weeds and bugs. Aren't we smarter than this? UGH.

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