One of our website readers said while hiking up the Kearsarge Pass trail he noted that nearly every Red Fir and White Fir had entire limbs of dead needles, the characteristic red color of bark-beetle infestation. Does the Eastern Sierra now have a bark beetle problem? We checked with the Forest Service. Their response was inconclusive.
Forester Scott Kusumoto, by way of Public Information Officer Nancy Upham, said that it is the time of year when even confiers begin shedding their no longer needed needles. He said that the trees our reader observed “could possibly have been under attack from bark beetles if they did see some streaming of pitch or sap on the tree.” The report we got said there was pitch and sap and seeming beetle exit holes on some of the trees.
The Forester said he and others “might have to see for ourselves to determine.” That is all that was available on bark beetles in Inyo National Forest. Nationwide, last week a federal report was issued by the Forest Service to say that fewer trees are dying in the nation’s forests and that bark beetle damage in the West is slowing down.
That official report says that the number of dead trees on 750 million acres of public and private forests across America is on the decline for the second straight year with most of the reductions seen in western states where bark beetles have infested millions of trees, according to the Forest Service report.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said, “Native insects and diseases run in cycles, and right now we are grateful the trend is downward.” Tidwell also said, “While the news is good, we are certain to continue to face challenges, such as the effects of climate change and the introduction of invasive species.”