Forestry sees a decline in pine beetle activity across Wyoming
Laramie – “Mountain pine beetle activity is generally declining,” reported Assistant State Forester for Forest Management Bill Haagenson during the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee meeting held in Laramie on Sept. 24-25.
While the news itself is positive, he noted that the reason beetle populations are declining is because the beetles have reduced the amount of suitable habitat to levels that cannot sustain the bugs.
“The activity in the Black Hills continues,” Haagenson described. “We have worked hard with our cooperators to direct control and reduce survival to reduce the trees that are infested next year.”
The areas around Newcastle believe they are holding their ground, but they aren’t “out of the woods” yet with the beetle.
“We can see, along the state line, a stark difference from where we have done treatment on the Wyoming side and where the South Dakota side has not been treated,” Haagenson emphasized. “We can see the results and impacts.”
While the staff for Wyoming State Forestry has been asked to continue to do their best to address pine beetle problems, Haagenson added, “We are doing our best to quantify those results to give us something to show success and give us a heads up on where things are going in the future.”
After the Wyoming Legislature allocated bark beetle mitigation funds, Haagenson noted that Wyoming State Forestry started working to allocate the money in June, so funds could be distributed as soon as they were available on July 1.
“We funded five projects for a total of $1 million,” he said. “Of that, $585,000 is to be expended during this fiscal year.”
Projects in Crook, Laramie and Weston counties, as well as projects by the Little Snake River Conservation District and Wyoming State Forestry for private land programs in Johnson County, will move forward.
Haagenson also commented that they will be ready to deploy the additional $1 million next year.
“The Legislature also appropriated $175,000 for us to hire a contract forester position to restart the timber program in the Rawlins district of BLM,” Haagenson said. “We were fortunate to hire someone with the skills we needed to do the job who knows the area and all the players.”
Beginning July 16, work started to revitalize the timber program in the Rawlins BLM district.
Currently, the program is scheduled to produce 1.8 million board-feet of timber sales during the 2014 calendar year.
“BLM also hired a forester, and we are providing a mentoring role to train this person,” Haagenson added. “BLM has been very perceptive and worked closely with us to get this going. We are getting things done quicker than one might expect.”
On Wyoming’s state lands, Haagenson noted they are actively working to salvage timber and provide products for the forest products industry.
“In the Sierra Madres, we are wrapping up harvest on two timber sales,” he said. “One was for 2 million board-feet, and the other was 800,000 board feet.”
They are also preparing to move into sales.
“We have active timber harvest occurring across the state,” Haagenson concluded.
For more information on the meeting, visit wyoleg.gov.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.