Forest Health - Bark Beetle - Talking Points

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

[Photograph]: Forest Service Employee marking dead tree with paint designating it for removal.

The Prescott National Forest is not cutting healthy green trees within the dead and dying tree removal project areas.

  • Forest Service personnel designate dead and dying trees being removed.
  • Ponderosa pines die within months after being attacked by bark beetles except when the beetles over-winter in the tree; then the mortality appears in the early summer.
  • The Prescott National Forest has 145,000 acres of Ponderosa Pine with an average 300 trees per acre. At the present time we are experiencing 30% mortality of Ponderosa across the forest. This has created approximately 13,050,000 dead and dying trees.
  • Currently we have National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on 11,245 to remove dead and dying trees. This leaves 133,755 acres that may go untreated leaving 12,037,950 dead and dying trees in the landscape.
  • Dead and dying trees are identified as trees that have the following characteristics:
  1. Dead or fading foliage high in the tree crown.
  2. Boring dust in the Bark crevices and at the tree base.
  3. Small pitch tubes (globules of pitch) appear on the trunk on the infested trees.

"Old Growth" trees are not being targeted for removal.  The Prescott National Forest is identifying all dead and dying trees for removal within the designated safety buffers while leaving two wildlife snags per acre.

  • The Ponderosa pine stands on the Prescott National Forest are primarily second growth forest less than 100 years old.
  • Dead and dying trees that are 5 to 11 inches in diameter have been and will be designated for removal. These trees are optional for removal by the purchaser. If the purchaser does not remove these trees, they will be removed under a service contract or by Forest Service Crews.
  • Dead and dying trees 12 inches and greater that have and will be designated for removal will be required to be removed by the purchaser.
  • Service Contracts to remove dead and dying trees 5 inches in diameter and larger within priority areas under the categorical exclusions are presently out for bid.

The public has been involved in the projects to remove dead and dying trees.

  • Public involvement for the categorical exclusions for dead and dying tree removal was conducted by being listed in the Schedule of Proposed Actions beginning in December 2002. Also, a scoping letter was sent to interested people and organizations on January 29, 2003 requesting comments by February 12, 2003. The projects were in several articles of the local newspaper and talk about at numerous public meetings
  • The Prescott National Forest objectives within the project identified under the categorical exclusions are:
  1. Protect residual stands, wildlife habitat and adjacent private property from catastrophic wildfire.
  2. Reduce public safety hazards.
  3. Reduce Hazardous fuels.
  • Locations for dead and dying tree removal under the categorical exclusions are:
  1. Two-hundred feet from the centerline of roads and 150 feet from fences and utility lines.
  2. Within the boundaries of developed recreation areas and administration sites.
  3. Within one-half mile from the boundary between National Forest lands and private property in the southwest corner of Prescott, around Ponderosa Park, the east side of the Walker community, and around Crown King.
  • The Boundary Environmental Assessment project will provide for the thinning of live Ponderosa pines within the Prescott Basin to improve Forest Health and reduce risk of high intensity wildfires.

[Photograph]: View of Ponderosa Park area showing the extent of the mortality.

Large dead Ponderosa pines do not provide the habitat characteristics needed by old growth dependent species.

  • In areas being cut, large dead Ponderosa pines have been designated to be retained as wildlife snags as directed by the Prescott National Forest Plan.
  • With an estimated 12,000,000 dead or dying trees on the Prescott National Forest, there will be more than sufficient snags to meet wildlife needs.

There is a difference between our normal program and the current current dead and dying tree (hazard tree) removal program.

  • Our normal program consist of using timber sales as a tool to achieve Forest Health Objectives such as reducing stand densities and creating multi age and stand structure characteristics. With this program we have target basal areas or spacing requirements. To achieve these objectives we thin out smaller suppressed trees first then work our way up the size classes until we reach our target stocking.
  • The dead and dying tree program consists of using timber sales as a tool to achieve Forest Health Objectives and hazardous fuels reduction. We are marking trees of all sizes that are dead and dying.