Ore. governor responds to pine beetle devastation
LIES, Capital Press 8/22/08
FALLS, Ore. - Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski on Thursday, Aug. 21,
dedicated state resources to help federal forest managers
battle an insect infestation that has decimated more than
300,000 acres of pine trees in Southern Oregon.
Kulongoski in a news conference held after he flew over the
infestation, said the state will back federal efforts to
manage the forests with an eye toward reducing fire risk and
"We can develop a management plant to provide sustainable,
predictable streams of timber to rural communities, while also
nurturing healthy forests that help us in the fight against
global warming," Kulongoski said.
The mountain pine beetle has destroyed more than 200,000 acres
of pine trees in the Fremont-Winema National Forest and
another 100,000 acres of trees on private forest land in the
area, creating a massive fire risk.
"We're a lightning strike away from potential disaster,"
Kulongoski said after viewing the decimation.
Wildfires are expensive to battle, costing Oregon taxpayers
millions of dollars annually, and they contribute to global
warming by putting massive amounts of carbon into the
atmosphere, the governor's office said.
Cal Joyner, acting regional forester for the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, said the state's help is crucial to the
Forest Service's ability to battle the mountain pine beetle.
"It is absolutely critical," he said.
Private forest managers in attendance at the news conference
applauded Kulongoski's commitment and urged federal forest
managers to take action immediately.
"We're hoping it's not just lip service," said Dan Applebaker,
forest manager for J-Spear Ranch Co. in Paisley, Ore.
J-Spear Ranch is among private forest land holders in the area
who have lost acreage to the mountain pine beetle.
"I think we've got to look at doing something quickly on the
south end (of the infestation) while there is still economic
value," said Paul Harlan, vice president for The Collins
Companies in Lakewood, Ore.
"The red zone will become the dread zone (without immediate
action)," Harlan said.
The mountain pine beetle infestation has been spreading south
since the early 1990s from the southern portion of the Silver
Lake Ranger District. The infestation now is affecting
lodgepole stands of portions of the Paisley and Bly ranger
The pine beetle feeds primarily on low-value lodgepole pine.
Higher value Ponderosa pine also serves as a host and forests
red with infested lodgepole pines often are dotted with
yellowing Ponderosa pine that also have died from the beetle.
Left to run its cycle, the beetle infests a forest, eventually
triggering wildfires that destroy the beetle or eventually
running out of host wood and dying off naturally.
The current management plan proposed by the Forest Service is
to fall and remove dead and infested trees within a 300-foot
wide zone on 194 miles of forest roads and at 25 recreation
sites. The areas treated would provide access for fire
fighters in the case of a wildfire and could be used as
firelines in combination with aerial retardant or other fire
In the press conference, Kulongoski said the infestation "is
much worse than I actually thought."
He vowed to support an Oregon Department of Forestry budget
proposal to add staff to work with federal forest managers on
Staff writer Mitch Lies is based in Salem. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.