Bark beetles have ravaged western forests in recent years, leaving behind huge swaths of dead trees.
In a series of ten short films premiering in Wyoming this week, the Forest Service and the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute have teamed up to spotlight some of the impacts of the outbreak, and the ways managers are responding to it. The Institute’s Emilene Ostlind says the series covers everything from bark beetles’ effect on Cheyenne’s water supply to how beetle kill is turned into lumber to her personal favorite, which focuses on researchers at the university.
Pine and spruce beetles have killed millions of trees across Wyoming and the West. To many, the dying forests are visually unattractive. But there’s a bigger issue. Researchers in the Medicine Bow National Forest are finding that beetle kill has had a major impact on how the forest processes carbon dioxide. Wyoming Public radio’s Willow Belden reports.
Foresters say it’s a good thing that Saratoga’s saw mill is back at work.
Saratoga Forest Management opened this January, 10 years after its predecessor, Saratoga Saw Mill, went out of business.
Wyoming State Forestry Division’s Josh Van Vlack says half of the area’s dense forests have been killed by bark beetles, but foresters can’t afford to remove the dead trees. Van Vlack says that the saw mill is paying for the rights to remove the timber, which is turns into two-by-fours.
114,000 new acres of bark beetle kill has been detected in an aerial survey done by the State Forestry Division for 2014. Most of that is in Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests.
Les Koch is the division’s Forest Health Specialist and says while warmer weather didn’t help in deterring the Pine, Spruce, and Douglas-Fir beetles, they have already killed many of their suitable host trees. While 2014 did see an increase in acres affected, over the last few years the overall trend has been downward.