Western Bark Beetles
Western bark beetles, most notably, mountain pine beetle, Douglas-fir beetle, western pine beetle, spruce beetle and ips are active on lands of all ownership in all the western states. Forests are severely stressed by widespread and prolonged drought and overstocking. Beetle caused mortality is extensive in all western states. Recent precipitation may help to end this infestation.
The Forest Service is working internally and reaching out externally to respond to the problem. Our efforts are focused on the highest priority acres, especially in conducting preventive thinning to improve forest health. It is not possible to effectively suppress or eradicate large areas of forests during an ongoing epidemic.
A comprehensive strategy has been prepared at the request of Congress to address the western bark beetle situation. A key feature of this plan is to reduce stress on trees through preventive actions. These actions will: reduce losses to bark beetles, reduce fire hazard, and increase the resiliency of treated stands. Forest Service is implementing much of this strategy within funding limits.
- Between 2000-2004, trees were killed on approximately 27.1 million acres in the western states.
- The Forest Service projects 21 million acres of western forests are highly hazardous to mortality caused by bark beetles. Thinning promotes vegetative conditions that reduces long-term hazard to catastrophic loss.
- We expect current outbreaks to intensify in many areas of the West due to drought, fire scorch and increasing density of the forests.
- In FY 2006 Forest Service, Forest Health Protection, plans to treat or fund treatments on approximately 58,945 acres of state, private and federal lands.
- In FY 2007, Forest Service, Forest Health Protection, will concentrate planned activities in the high-risk areas to treat about 33,500 acres.