Friday, February 5, 2016

Mountain pine beetle winning the Black Hills water war

Black Hills streams that have been dry for decades are running thanks to bark beetles.

The Black Hills National Forest has announced that the mountain pine beetle is erasing a century of habitat mismanagement.
“We are seeing positive results as we continue our work with partners and conservation leaders throughout the Black Hills. We will continue to perform landscape scale treatments to make the forest more resilient to insects and fire,” said Craig Bobzien, Black Hills National Forest Supervisor. Results showed an overall decrease in tree mortality across the forest as a whole, but there are still several areas of significant beetle activity. Areas that have the highest current activity include the Northwest corner of the Forest around the Tinton area (approximately 8 miles west of Lead and 8 miles South of Spearfish), areas south and east of Custer and the west-central area near the South Dakota/Wyoming state line. [BHNF press release]
Ponderosa pine is not native to Black Hills.
Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), the most widely distributed pine in North America, experienced one of the most rapid and extensive of these post-glacial plant migrations. The eastern race of ponderosa pine (variety scopulorum) spread northward along the Rocky Mountains, starting at its northernmost known distribution in southern New Mexico and Arizona around 13,000 years ago, and reached central Montana only within the last millennium. The western race (variety ponderosa) experienced a parallel but less well-known migration along the Sierra Nevada, eventually mingling with the northernmost populations of the eastern race in the northern Rockies. [Climate Past as Prologue for Ponderosa Pines]
Neiman Enterprises is putting pressure on Republicans to increase logging of the old growth pine: critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

Hey, where have i read this before?
In the first study, a team made up of French researchers obtained historical data describing the numbers and types of trees in Europe going back to 1750—they then used that information to create a model that showed the impact that forests have had on climate change. That allowed them to see dramatic forest loss in the early years, which carried on for nearly a century. But then, as more food was imported into Europe, forests began to rebound—but they were managed, which meant certain types of trees were favored over others for commercial reasons. This led to the displacement of a large percentage of broad-leaf trees with conifers, which the researchers note, hold more carbon, but since they have been harvested the carbon has been released. They also found that because fir trees have needles instead of leaves, and because they are darker, there have been significant changes in evapotranspiration and albedo, causing temperatures in forested areas to rise. [Studies show impact of forest management and deforestation on climate]
Researchers are saying insect activity doesn't make wildfire potential more likely in the Rocky Mountain Complex where fires and bugs have been clearing overgrowth.
The mountain pine beetles pinned inside Diana Six's lab in the Bioresearch Building on campus are little, the size of Tic Tacs. The research the University of Montana professor of forest entomology and pathology is doing on the insects is big. Beetles can tell the difference between a strong tree and a stressed one, and they are removing trees that are less able to adapt to climate change. Now, when beetles hit an area, people have a tendency to clear-cut for salvage, Six said. But downing every tree might be counterproductive if their hypothesis is correct. [The Missoulian]
Get cattle off the Black Hills National Forest and make it part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

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