Posted: May 31, 2012 7:00 AM by Dennis Bragg (KPAX News)
Updated: May 31, 2012 7:01 AM
STEVENSVILLE- Bitterroot National Forest contractors will spend the next two to three weeks spraying trees in the latest assault on the mountain pine beetle and the front lines are concentrated on the most valuable recreation acreage.
Crews are gearing up and heading out as the Bitterroot National Forest undertakes its second year of battling pine beetles, with an expanded effort to keep the bugs from taking over the most critical places for public use, like campgrounds, trailheads and work camps.
Their arsenal includes Carbaryl, delivered by high pressure spray nozzles to coat the healthy trees.
"And it's truly a broad-scaled insecticide. It's something that we're going to spray on the trees to kill the mountain pine beetles. It's not a targeted insecticide, so it's broad scale. It will kill insects in general so we have to be very careful about that. For instance we're not going to be able to spray that close to the stream. We have a stream here just down slope, Mill Creek, so we're going to stay out of that zone," biological scientist Jerry Krueger explained.
Although crews are covered head-to-foot, the spray is safe. Most soaks into the bark and the remainder disperses in a day. But it's also costly. The U.S. Forest Service will spend $25,000 treating just over 2,000 trees at 14-sites.
Since it's such an expensive process the Forest Service is only targeting specific trees that will give aesthetic value and also increase safety in trailheads and campgrounds.
"And this is something we're going to do across the forest. We're going to apply Carbaryl in this case only in the locations where it makes the most sense," Kruger said.
It took less than an hour to treat 60 trees at Mill Creek on Wednesday. That's only a very small percentage of the beetle-kill trees on the Bitterroot, but spraying is just one weapon in the beetle fight.
"So we're using thinning, hazard tree removal, Verbenone patches, the chemicals like Carbaryl. So it's a multi-pronged approach. And how effective we're being the public will be the judge of that. I'd say we're doing as good of a job as we can with the limited resources we have available," commented Krueger.
The spraying continues into June, protecting trees before the adult beetles emerge in July.