Reducing Spruce Beetle-Caused Mortality in the Southern Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists, partnered with Forest Service Forest Health Protection, have determined that partial forest cutting can, under typical bark beetle conditions, reduce spruce beetle-caused tree mortality. Among all surveyed forest stands, thinned stands had 7.3% mortality compared to 14.4% for unthinned stands. The study, published in the April 2010 issue of Western Journal of Applied Forestry, was initiated to address entomologists' uncertainty about the success of partial cutting as a method to reduce bark beetle-caused tree mortality. This is the first published study showing the effectiveness of partial cutting to reduce losses to spruce beetle. Study results are beneficial to entomologists, forest managers and the general public. Implementing partial cutting of forests over a geographic area could help mitigate the spruce beetle outbreaks, which have been anecdotally linked to the changing climate throughout western North America. Improving the odds for residual spruce survival would lead to healthier and livelier forests for the public to recreate in.