Everyday I see forests ravaged by bark beetles…how stark.
Bark beetle epidemics have killed millions of acres of western forests, widely recognized to be caused in part by the absence of the extremely cold winter days that typically play a large role in controlling epidemics. The University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute is today wrapping up a conference for land managers and forest stakeholders, Bark Beetle Impacts In the Intermountain West: Redefining Post- Disturbance Forests and Management Strategies. In a series of articles published coincident with the conference, the Casper Star-Tribune identifies and explores the questions that land and water managers, policy-makers, businesses, and citizens are asking about the impacts. Pine beetle epidemic kills Wyoming forests, generates debate, Experts study beetle kill’s impact on water sources, Pine beetle outbreak doesn’t deter many Wyoming visitors, Beetle-kill epidemic a boon for Wyoming’s timber industry?
One key question that continues to get a lot of attention is whether forests with substantial beetle-kill are susceptible to more severe wildfires. In one recent study at Yellowstone National Park, researchers using satellite imagery suggest that beetle-killed forests may not be as vulnerable to wildfire as green forests.
Beetle kills may not elevate fire hazard, Associated Press, September 27, 2010 and NASA satellites reveal surprising connection between beetle attacks, wildfire, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, September 8, 2010.
Adding to the body of knowledge is a new report summarizing what’s known about the effects of climate change on various beetle species, authored by some of the West’s top pine beetle researchers, and published in the September issue of BioScience: Climate Change and Bark Beetles of the Western United States and Canada: Direct and Indirect Effects.