Forest Health - Bark Beetle - Current Project

INDEX: Background Information | Talking Points | Graph | Current Projects


What is the Forest Service doing to deal with this problem?

Our biggest concern is the additional fuel loading in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). With this new development of bug killed trees in the WUI, we are reassessing the priorities for our fuel treatment areas. Our second priority will be to develop projects to protect our high investment areas like campgrounds, picnic areas, and administrative facilities. Our third priority is to improve the long term health of the forest by reducing the number of trees per acre. Many of the stands are more than twice the basal area considered optimum for a healthy stand. By allowing the remaining trees to better utilize the available water and nutrients and putting them in a healthier condition, they will be better able to defend themselves against insect infestations. Specific options include burning, and mechanical treatments such as thinning.

Does the Forest Service currently have any active projects?

Yes, three service contracts were awarded in October for the removal of dead trees in three areas. All contracts have about five months to complete the removal of the marked trees. The first contract is for the Lynx Lake Recreation Area. It involves 120 acres with about 2,000 trees marked for removal. The second area is in the Southwest corner of Prescott where about 8,000 trees are to be removed from 273 acres. The third area is south of Crown King where about 5,000 trees are to be removed from 140 acres.

A service contract is a contract where the Forest Service pays to have designated dead and dying trees cut and removed from the forest. The Prescott National Forest is paying on a per acre basis. The Forest Service used service contracts in this instance because of unique situations. The Forest Service does not intend to use service contracts on a regular basis.

  • Map of Service Contract in the southwest corner of Prescott National Forest (454 KB PDF)
  • Map of Service Contract in the Lynx Lake Recreation Area (484 KB PDF)
  • Map of Service Contract in Crown King (514 KB PDF)

How many Contractors are currently working to remove beetle killed trees and where are the operating?

  • Four contractors are operating on the Posse but still need to be hauled away.
  • There are approximately 900 trees cut south of Groom Creek, north of Wolf Creek Cut Over Road.
  • The Schoolhouse Gulch area between Marapai Road and Schoolhouse Gulch, and moving north towards the boundary with Hidden Valley Ranch
  • White Spar Campground we removed 900 dead and dying trees finished on 4/14/03.
  • Along State Highway 89 in the Indian Fire area (completed)
  • Removed 500 dead trees from the Lynx Lake Recreation Area

Is the Forest Service planning any other projects?

Yes, priority areas will be addressed in the following order 1) National Forest land adjacent to private property, 2) developed recreation areas, 3) administrative sites, 4) roadsides, 5) dispersed recreation sites, 6) fence lines and 7) utility lines (APS removes immediate hazard trees from the utility line corridor). Work will be implemented all year where permitted.

These projects have one of three objectives: 1) removal of dead and dying trees within 200 feet of the centerline of roads, 100 feet from the centerline of trails, 150 feet from fences and utility lines, 2) removal of dead and dying trees within the boundaries of developed recreation areas, administrative sites and dispersed recreation sites, and 3) removal of dead and dying trees within a half mile buffer around communities identified at high risk.

The Prescott National Forest is searching for long-term solutions to address concerns about forest health and hazardous fuels. Utilization of woody biomass on a sustained basis would help address these concerns. Currently, the ponderosa pine timber type produces over 17,000 tons of new biomass annually. This wood, in addition to woody biomass from brush and other tree species, could be used for a variety of products, including the fueling of a waste-to-energy plant. The Prescott National Forest will seek authority to enter into a 10-year stewardship contract for harvesting woody biomass. This contract would help assure a steady supply of material, in hopes that the private sector would be attracted to invest in the opportunity of finding uses for it.

What is the status of the Carbaryl spraying project?

On March 17, 2003 the Prescott National Forest decided to defer efforts to implement the spraying of Carbaryl on the high-value trees in selected developed recreation sites originally planned for March Depending on the effects of this summer beetle infestation, the forest may decide to continue the analysis of this project and implement it sometime this fall or early next spring.

This project is being deferred at this time primarily because of a timing issue:

  • In order to be effective, the trees need to be sprayed before the spring flight of the Ips beetles, which is now starting as our weather gets warmer.
  • Public scoping for this project revealed some public concern about this project, and it would take more time to appropriately address those concerns than the forest personnel has available before the beetle flight.

What is the reasoning behind the three objectives for projects?

  1. Removal of dead and dying trees within 200 feet of the centerline of roads, 100 feet from the centerline of trails, 150 feet from fences and utility lines.

    The reason for treating dead and dying trees within 200 feet of the centerline of Forest System roads open to motorized travel for all or part of the year is to provide for public safety. This distance includes the average height that a falling tree could hit the roadway or its structures and allows for roadside parking that may occur along them. Although there is always some risk in travel on forest roads, the current number of dead trees greatly exceeds this implied level of safety. Only trees that pose an immediate threat will be removed. If a tree were dead and 50 feet tall and 200 feet from the road than that tree would remain. However, if a 24 tree 90 feet tall is 200 feet from the centerline of the road on a 30% slope, sloping towards the road that tree will be removed. Due to the chance it would roll off the slope into the road. Level 5 roads will be the priority roads to treat with the priority descending in order from level 4, then level 3, then level 2, etc.

    The rationale for treating dead and dying trees within 100 feet of the centerline along Forest System trails is to provide for public safety that has been compromised. This distance includes the average height that a falling tree could hit the trail or hit a tree adjacent to the trail. The majority of these trees will fall within the next 3 to ten years unless treated and disposed of. Although there is always some risk in travel on forest trails, the current number of dead trees has exceeded this implied level of safety. As stated in Forest Service Handbook 2309.18 Trails Management Handbook, page 11, section 4.26 Annual Trail Management Plan: The following criteria are normally used in establishing priorities for trail maintenance work. Priority 1 is maintenance activities that would correct an unsafe condition relative to management objectives. Priority 2 is maintenance activities that minimize unacceptable resource and trail damage. Treating dead and dying trees that threaten public use of trails are practices used during trail maintenance activities.

    The rationale for treating dead and dying trees within 150 feet along fences serving as private property landlines is to provide for public safety that has been compromised. Numerous residences and other structures are located next to National Forest land boundaries. This distance includes the average height that a falling tree could hit a fence or structure located on private property. Treating dead trees that threaten private landowners and their property are practices used during fence maintenance activities. This will also help to create a firebreak and help with initial attack and suppression activities.

    The rationale for treating dead and dying trees within 150 feet of utility lines is to protect these structures from trees that will rot and fall. Downed power lines are hazardous to the public, may cause a future wildfire and disrupt service.
     
  2. Removal of dead and dying trees within the boundaries of developed recreation sites, administrative sites and dispersed recreation sites.

    These areas were selected because of safety concerns to the public or Agency employees. It will also help create a defensible space that will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire impacting the site and aid in fire suppression activities. Removal of dead trees that threaten forest visitors, Agency employees, and administrative or recreation structures are practices used during maintenance activities. Forest Service Manual 2300, chapter 2332.11 states, remove hazardous trees or tree limbs on sites but take care to preserve the recreation resource. Obtain assistance from the timber specialists, pest specialists, and recreation specialists as necessary. Priority areas are Granite Basin Recreation Area, Thumb Butte Day Use Area and Horsethief Basin Recreation Area.
     
  3. Removal of dead and dying trees within a half mile buffer around communities identified at high risk.
    These areas were selected because of concerns to forest health, public safety and hazardous fuels as the beetle epidemic and drought continue. Priority areas within the project area would be addressed in the following order 1) adjacent to private property, 2) within developed recreation areas, 3) along roads, beginning with level 5 roads and going in descending order of levels.