Bark beetles are feasting on Utah forests

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  • Medicare Kid
    Sept. 11, 2008 10:59 p.m.

    The enviro's are proud as punch for the unhealthy forests throughout the west. They are dead and dying at a significant rate and the forest service budget is all going to fight the wild fires that follow. Dead trees burn faster than green trees. Why Congress allows the enviros to destroy our forests and watersheds is beyond all reason. Until the public gets completely fed up, it will continue. If you really care, call your Senators and Congressman.

  • Spoc
    Sept. 8, 2008 10:57 p.m.

    Thanks Ed. Well put.

    Clear cutting is essentially what a forest fire does. It may be the most economical method of harvesting but is also visually the most obvious. Selective thinning permits sunlight down to the forest floor allowing new growth and improving wildlife habitat. Canadian lynx thrive in areas where logging has improved the habitat for their sole source of food, the snowshoe rabbit.

    The trouble with the environazis is they don't know how to strike a healthy balance. To them the forest would be better off if we all stop adding carbon to the atmosphere by not breathing.

  • Busybodiness as usual
    Sept. 8, 2008 4:52 p.m.

    Clearing deadwood and thinning trees make sense. During my 1970s college summers, I was a logger. When Mt. St. Helens blew MILLIONS of trees were felled by the eruption. It took almost 3 YEARS for our green friends to permit loggers to clear out the dead trees and begin voluntary opposed to letting nature take its course~10-15 yrs for forest to reseed its from under a couple of feet of pot-ash! It took 6 MONTHS of study to approve replanting with the same species of trees in the native forest.

    The worst thing in the world is a bunch of sincere and uninformed activists setting public policies at the statehouse under a righteous banner of "environmentalism." For the most part, if industry is in favor of something; the knee-jerk reaction of environmentalists is opposition.

    Frankly, NO ONE is more interested in the health of American forests than those whose living comes from converting trees to lumber. Those forests sold to industry before 1970 have more healthy trees & consistently produce more lumber than any public forest--only one guess as to why!

  • Colorado Ute
    Sept. 8, 2008 3:28 p.m.

    Here in Colorado they're making burn plants to burn the beetle killed trees and make energy from them. And the best part of it all is that it's "carbon neutral" because the carbon would be released back into the atmosphere by burning or natural decay. Check it out for yourself.

    The minute I heard about it, I became further convinced that so called "sustainability" and "green" is all a crock.

  • Ed Meyer
    Sept. 8, 2008 2:18 p.m.

    When I was younger, I worked both for the Forest Service and as a timber harvester. I truly believe most forest managers would like to be able to use their training for true multiple use of the forests. The problem is that federal regulations allow environmental groups to file protests of every proposed timber sale, regardless of its purpose. When this occurs, the Forest Service is forced to spend a huge portion of their budget doing extensive and expensive environmental reviews. Groups like SUWA do not protest only those sales that have significant negative impact, but EVERY sale. This exhausts the resources of the Forest Services and reduces their ability to manage the forest. I believe the key to sound forest management is a thorough review of existing regulations to grant the Forest Service greater discretion in doing their job. If this were done, there would be less forest fires contributing to global warming, better wildlife habitat and stronger rural economies. It's time the pendulum swung back in the direction of responsible management.

  • Why?
    Sept. 8, 2008 1:22 p.m.

    What is the purpose of having forests? Is it to provide a natural habitat for animals? To help balance the global environment? A place where humans can have recreation?

    So what is the solution? Do we just sit back and let nature take its course? or do we intervene and try to save what is left of the forest? Why not let loggers harvest the dead wood and old trees? Why not do controlled burns?

  • wer
    Sept. 8, 2008 11:54 a.m.

    This beetle infestation problem has been going on for years in southern UT and the geniuses at the federal government (and other environmental groups) have contributed to the problem. When all the trees are gone or infested, it will be too late. In fact, it is too late, if the powers that be don't change course now!

  • Stewart
    Sept. 8, 2008 10:16 a.m.

    It isn't global warming that has caused the huge losses to the bark beetle, it is the change in forest management of the past four decades. Instead of saving the forest, the practice of not harvesting the timber is actually causing the beetle destruction of our forests.

    Not only do bark beetle killed trees need to be removed, but also old and other infected trees as well. Some of our good intentions have been the most harmful to our forests. Now due to "environmentalists," NOT global warming, large areas of forest are going to have to be harvested and replanted. Driving through some areas of forest are scary, and sadly, it appears that nothing is being done.

  • Al
    Sept. 8, 2008 10:16 a.m.

    My biggest question is, why did it take untill now, when almost all is lost to realize a problem and act on it ?

  • To Manage Forests
    Sept. 8, 2008 10:18 a.m.

    The disastrous fire at Yellowstone happened because the Forest Service used to put OUT every fire that happened, whether it started naturally or not. That destroyed the forests natural death and rebirth cycles which is why the massive fire was so devastating. It was Mother Nature's way of resetting the balance.

    Yellowstone no longer puts out every fire. They let the natural fires burn.

    As long as we mess up the balance, Mother Nature will always find a way to reset it, whether it be through fires or wood-boring beetles.

  • cb
    Sept. 8, 2008 9:42 a.m.

    Before the Forest Service came along there were massive fires that burned off the dead trees. Now that they suppress the fire the trees grow old and die. We need to remove the dead and old trees to improve the health off the forest. Logging the forest is the best way to keep the carbon locked up in the timber and we have many productive uses for the wood.

  • Let it Burn
    Sept. 8, 2008 9:31 a.m.

    "Years of fire-suppression efforts in forests have allowed those trees to become more dense."

    Fire kills old, unhealthy trees and promotes growth of young, healthy ones that are less susceptible to bark beetles. This is the true cure, but doesn't fit with our "management" philosophy.

  • elisabeth
    Sept. 8, 2008 9:27 a.m.

    We just got back from camping and its true, it is overwhelming the amount of tree loss. The beetles need to be made incapable of reproduction and it needs to be species specific. Or, evaluate the total enviornmental consequences of increasing beetle-eating animal populations. That answer will likely come from a group of enviromental scientists. Obviously spraying them with pesticide would negatively impact the water supply and all living creatures, duh. Also, allowing the trees to fully decompose will regenrate the soil so that when, and hopefully soon, they start a massive replanting effort, the trees will be healthier and stronger than ever. Letting the lumber industry have a portion of them is reasonable, but it is not a solution to the beetle problem or the deforestation problem. Its just people hoping to profit off of a problem.

  • Geo.
    Sept. 8, 2008 9:26 a.m.

    Just another example of how SUWA and the Sierra Club are destroying the west. Common sense is not even an option for those groups.

  • The Utah Republican
    Sept. 8, 2008 9:24 a.m.

    My understanding is that the beetles can only swarm when there's a large enough food mass for them to reproduce in the necessary numbers. That only happens when the energy of the forest is tied up in standing wood. The beetle grubs can't survive under the think bark of immature trees.

    If you think of the forest as a complex organic system that includes death and renewal, the beetles are part of a natural cycle that happens every few centuries when the forest is old. That way new trees grow and have light and water resources that the old trees had blocked.

    Using this paradigm, it's morally appropriate to harvest the insect killed trees and then foster the rebirth of the forest, including planting trees and protecting animals, as the new forest grows in.

    That's what we call generational stewardship, an idea the environmentalists are supposed to believe in but are often too short sighted to understand.

  • edie
    Sept. 8, 2008 8:47 a.m.

    My understanding is that they can be sprayed and irradicated that way, but the enviros are not going to let that happen!! It is very upsetting to drive through these forests and see the devastation. At this point it would be an incomprehensible task to take out the dead trees.

  • Observer
    Sept. 8, 2008 8:38 a.m.

    A company in Gunnison, Satterwhite Log Homes, used to harvest only beetle-killed trees under permits from the Forest Service. They employed many dozens of people. The Utah Environmental Congress (UEC)sued to prevent them from getting new leases, thereby shutting down Satterwhite's operations, because the Forest Service had failed to count the sage grouse in the area. That helped the infestion of beetles to proliferate, put many people out of work, and gave the UEC something to brag about on its website.

  • Bryan
    Sept. 8, 2008 8:36 a.m.

    I think that the forest service has learned a lot about how they have changed the forest. Now they see fire and natural processes as uncontrollable. So I say let them do there best to "help" not manage the forest. There must be a way to get the forests back to the way that nature in tended them. We are all human and are part of this world and we too make mistakes.

    Logging can be a great way to thin out and restore the forests. I have seen areas that were destroyed by these beetles and it is worse than any fire or logging that I have ever seen. I believe that this beetle is non native. Where does it come from? If I am wrong let me know.

  • country mom
    Sept. 8, 2008 8:33 a.m.

    The forests where I live are pretty much dead. I agree with Dave. We could have logged the trees instead of having all the forest dead. It is really sad and I hate to see the day when it all burns, but it is coming.

  • Dave
    Sept. 8, 2008 7:48 a.m.

    Better to let everything die and burn than have some evil loggers make a profit.

  • KingM
    Sept. 8, 2008 7:37 a.m.

    >>We must return to managed forestry or our forests will be gone in our lifetime. To think that forests will manage themselves is as foolish as to think that man has no impact on the environment.>>

    I'm in favor of sustainable timber harvesting, but this makes no sense. The forests were here long before civilization arrived and did just fine without being managed.

  • Manage Forests
    Sept. 8, 2008 6:46 a.m.

    We need to harvest trees and suppress fires. For decades we sold timber out of the national forests which supported an entire industry of logging and lumber while generating a taxes. Now due to environmental pressure we refuse to allow selective timber harvest which leads to uncontrolled fire potential. Compounded by the disastrous "let it burn" policy, like at Yellowstone Park, our forests are a dying resource. We need healthy forests to maintain air quality.

    We must return to managed forestry or our forests will be gone in our lifetime. To think that forests will manage themselves is as foolish as to think that man has no impact on the environment. Of course we have an impact and so we must intervene to manage or lose our resources. The side benefit is a healthy logging and lumber industry that we have almost extinguished in this country.

  • Desert Rat
    Sept. 8, 2008 6:20 a.m.

    So, global warming is contributing to the proliferation of bark beetles, and allowing the beetle killed trees to burn contributes to global warming -- so why not send in the lumber companies to harvest the dead trees before they burn?

    I know that would voilate the SUWA and Sierra Club dogma that there is nothing worse than harvesting a tree for commercial purposes, but maybe it's time to help them understand that separation of church and state can also apply to secular institutions.