Saturday, January 27, 2018

Black Hills beetle defying human interference in forest health

10 and 100 hour fuels are increasing the risk of wildland fire at the mouth of the Big Sioux River in eastern South Dakota providing more evidence of a massive die-off caused by poor agricultural practices; but, water supplies on the Black Hills are rebounding following the efforts of the native pine beetle and spruce beetle.

Greg Josten at South Dakota Department of Agriculture just addressed the mostly earth hater House Ag and Natural Resource Committee.
He said they would periodically return in big numbers but more diversity of forest structure could potentially reduce the damage. Josten, the state forester, said scientists don't yet understand what causes the beetles to surge into an epidemic and then eventually recede. High density habitat helps sustain epidemics, he said. "For whatever reasons, past management allowed the trees to become as dense as they were," he said. Breaking up those areas would help, he said. Ponderosa pines predominate the Black Hills terrain.
Read the rest here.

The committee passed HCR 1003 Thursday morning setting policy for a 'resilient forest strategy' but does not appropriate additional money. It's headed to the house floor for a full vote even though Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board entomologist Kurt Allen said the mountain pine beetle has returned to endemic, very low levels or about one tree per acre.

Ponderosa pine is not native to the Black Hills. When the Custer Expedition came through the region in 1874 bringing invasive cheatgrass for their horses stands of ponderosa pine were sparse and scattered but a century and a half of poor management practices have created an unnatural overstory best controlled by the mountain pine beetle, prescribed fires and periodic wildfires.

US Representative Kristi Noem (earth hater-SD) and South Dakota's congressional delegation routinely pressure Forest Service officials to keep Hulett, Wyoming donor Jim Neiman happy.

Today's fire danger is at the high category in all reporting stations on the Black Hills.

South Dakota's failure to sufficiently clear decades of overgrowth and understory led to the Legion Lake Fire.
According to Pheasants Forever Biologist Brian Teeter, this lack of fire has resulted in negative consequences in the health and diversity of our prairies and forests which are critical to our wildlife and agricultural economy. “You don’t have to travel very far to see that the eastern red cedar is rapidly expanding and is negatively affecting our grazing lands but there is also less obvious benefits that range from improving wildlife habitat to increasing forage quality.” Teeter noted.
Read that here.

The June, 2016 Crow Peak Fire affected mostly Republican landowners who built in the wildland urban interface begged the feds to protect their properties. These people, white retirees from somewhere else who hate gubmint, fled Minnesota, Colorado or California then parachuted into South Dakota hoping to isolate themselves from fair taxation, African-Americans and cultural diversity.

Trees on public ground are not agriculture. Republicans may have been interested in science at some point in the past but like native Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and as revenues collapse the eventual extirpation of cougars from the Black Hills looks like a given, too.

More diversity means clearing the second growth ponderosa pine, restoring aspen habitat, prescribing burns, beginning extensive Pleistocene rewilding using bison and cervids, engaging tribes, buying out ranchers, leasing private land for wildlife corridors, turning feral horses from Bureau of Land Management pastures onto other public land to control exotic grasses and electing Democrats to lead the way.

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