USDA Forest Service

Forest Health Protection, Southern Region


USDA Forest Service
Forest Health Protection
Region 8
1720 Peachtree Road, NW
Room 816 N
Atlanta, GA 30309

Phone: (404) 347-7478
Fax: (404) 347-1880

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Southern Pine Beetle Suppression


  • Southern pine beetles (SPB) are primarily aggregated within expanding infestations. Prompt suppression of these infestations is an important component of SPB integrated pest management.
  • Suppression is effective in reducing resource loss. On the National Forests in Texas in the 1990s, SPB affected almost 8,000 acres of susceptible host type in areas where suppression was implemented, or 1.8% of the total area. In contrast, over 13,000 acres were infested in wilderness, or over 40% of the susceptible host type.
  • The two primary methods of SPB suppression, cut-and-remove and cut-and-leave, require tree-felling, limiting their application in sensitive areas. These methods also require the felling of a buffer of uninfested trees in front of the expanding infestation.
  • In the absence of SPB suppression, large-scale pine mortality occurs, destroying endangered species habitat, recreation opportunities, timber and other property values. Affected areas require expensive and extensive restoration efforts. The dead trees also create additional risks/hazards for human safety, wildfire, and utility line services.
  • Currently it takes an average of at least 10 days between detection and suppression for cut-and-leave treatments, while cut-and-remove treatments typically require over 3 weeks.

Project Highlights

  • FHP provides suppression funds to the National Forests, other Federal lands, and to the states for SPB detection and suppression. These funds are vital in reducing tree loss, protecting habitat, and minimizing additional fuel loads.
  • Conservative estimates place the benefit/cost of SPB suppression between 3:1 and 10:1.
  • FHP works with the NFs to coordinate and facilitate their SPB suppression activities. FHP provides input on the necessary environmental analyses and technical assistance on SPB suppression in sensitive areas.
  • The new Southern Pine Beetle Information System (SPBIS) will enable the NFs to track and coordinate suppression, ensuring that all infestations are monitored and treated if needed.
  • FHP supports technology development projects designed to find new methods of suppression that 1) do not require tree-felling, 2) limit the number of uninfested trees included in the treatment, or 3) are intended to reduce area-wide SPB populations.
  • FHP is working with the NFs and the states to develop new instruments to expedite SPB suppression. FHP also is actively involved in the development of new opportunities and outlets for woody materials so that loggers and resources will be available when SPB outbreaks occur.


  • On National Forest System (NFS) land, the SPB cut and remove suppression tactic is handled through a timber sale contract. Because expanding SPB infestations behave similarly to wildfire, timber sale contracts may not be the most effective tool for cut and remove suppression operations. The delays inherent in the required sale preparation, advertising, and contract regulations result in undesirable and avoidable tree losses and SPB population growth.
  • Better tools would make SPB suppression a more efficient and effective process. FHP in R8 is working with Forest Management to implement other tools that may be more effective, such as increased direct Ranger sales and area-wide stewardship contracts.
  • Expedited NEPA documentation such as use of the new categorical exclusions should be allowed when SPB outbreaks suddenly occur to permit rapid suppression and prevent tree loss.
  • Many experts have suggested that reducing over wintering SPB populations may have a pronounced impact on infestation levels the following spring and summer. Stewardship contracts or area-wide contracts are needed for the detection and treatment of SPB infested trees in the fall and winter.
  • New methods of suppressing infestations in sensitive areas are needed.

Future Direction

  • FHP must increase its efforts to press the need for expedited SPB suppression within the FS and to the public.
  • FHP must continue to support and fund SPB prevention activities, reducing the need for SPB suppression.
  • FHP should continue to assist in the development of new suppression techniques.


FHP Contact:

Steve Clarke
Forest Service-USDA
Homer Garrison Federal Building
701 N. First Street
Lufkin, TX 75901
Phone: 936-639-8545



USDA Forest Service - Forest Health Protection, Southern Region
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:28 CST

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