National Forest Beetle infestation, Alaksa
25, 2002 17:39 PDT
As it turns out, I found the original message that I sent to
am pasting it below. I was a part of this, and as you might
further discuss it if asked.
After reading your posted Black Hills article, I was reminded
of my stay in
Alaska during the 1990's. I arrived at the beginning of spruce
infestation. There were significant differences between the
National Forest and the Chugach National Forest where I
worked. The Chugach
was and is essentially a 'recreation forest' as the Timber
Program was very
small (the reconstruction of parts of the Anchorage to Seward
involved more board footage than the annual cut).
Six years later, the infestation had spread across ALL of
Alaska (let's say equivalent to a major proportion of New
England). As of
my departure, more than 95% of all white/Lutz spruce was
killed. The first
to be impacted were the recreationists (hikers and bikers had
passing through trails jackstrawed with downed spruce),
followed shortly by
Alaska's "charismatic megafauna" such as moose, who
have significant stride
height, but were confounded by snow hiding much of the tree.
effects I suspect now include a drastically changed watershed
significantly less moisture transpired with so much of the
spruce now gone.
An aggressive spruce bark beetle program back when the
small and localized may have significantly reduced the
A timber induced monoculture incapable of fighting off a
disease? No, very little logging historically. Mimicks large
fire disturbance? Not much history of fire disturbance on the
Peninsula, or other locations either, as the spruce most
slopes leading away from marine locations. Climate change?
something to that, as dryer warmer winters were favorable to
the spruce bark
Could the BHNF be doing the right thing? I think they could
be. Could the
BHNF fall prey to timber interests? They could, and you'd know
I. Is stopping them altogether like throwing out the baby with
bathwater? Let's hope that a compromise is reachable that
minimizes the beetle infestation/fire danger, but doesn't
diminish the healthy forest that remains.