Sen. Udall sponsors bill to attack pine beetles

Colorado Democrat Udall says his bill will combat a great natural disaster-

Yes there are millions of  acres of beetle killed pine trees in Colorado, but also Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon and Washington, New Mexico, British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon. Local politicians respond to local demands to do something, but rarely do they realize or at least tell their constituents that that beetle kill is unstoppable by humans. The pine trees over hundreds of thousands of square miles are vulnerable to attack due to their age, but more due to winter’s failure to have sustained cold temperatures below -20 F.

I have never seen a large pine bark beetle infestation stopped anywhere by human means. I have been following mountain pine beetle kills since 1974 when I was first hired as consultant on the Targhee National Forest to help with the big mountain pine bark beetle infestation there, west of Yellowstone Park.  The current infestation is much large, it almost spans the Continent from north to south.

As far as the alledged fire danger of vast tracts of dead trees, it isn’t high, except for the year or two right when the tree dies and the needles have turned red, but not fallen off. At that time they might as well be soaked in gasoline. I have set fire to red-needled branches that were soaking wet.

After the needles have dropped forest fires can no longer crown, because the dead trees have no crowns. The only extreme fires that can happen are in gullies or other places where the dead trees are windthrown.  This means they pile on top of each other like the way you would arrange sticks and logs to get a campfire going. However, that is the exception.

The big, extreme forest fires take place in “red” timber and green timber during a drought, especially if it is hot and there is wind.

Yes, the forest has turned ugly, but the little bit of treatment humans can do at this late date is like pouring a glass of water on a house fire.

Sen. Udall sponsors bill to attack pine beetles. By Judith Kohler. Associated Press.

Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of [Pine] Trees in West

Beetle kill is hardly a local issue-

This is not the first I’ve posted articles about this, but it needs to repeated because of the continuing local perception that is an issue for a particular national forest or state without the recognition that pine trees (but not necessarily other kinds of conifers) are dying by the billions from the British Columbia and Alberta mountains southward to New Mexico.

Story in the New York Times. Nov. 17, 2008. Bark Beetles Killing . . . By Jim Robbins.

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Update. George Wuetherner has some important additions, clarifications, and corrections that need to be made to Robbins’ article above. Context and Perspective Needed in Bark Beetle Discussion. By George Wuetherner. Wuethner on the Environment (blog).