Western Bark Beetle Strategy Overview

Ponderosa pine seedlings.

Across six states of the interior west, over 17.5 million acres of forested lands are infested by bark beetles. The infestation is growing at an estimated 600,000 acres a year with the potential to affect the majority of our western pine, fir and spruce forests. It is estimated that 100,000 beetle-killed trees are currently falling daily, posing a serious health and safety threat to forest visitors, residents and employees. The epidemic is also causing unprecedented environmental impacts.

The Western Bark Beetle Strategy (PDF, 7.0 MB) developed in 2011 identifies how the Forest Service is responding to and will respond to the western bark beetle epidemic over the next five years (FY 2011- 2016). The extent of the epidemic requires prioritization of treatments, first providing for human safety in areas threatened by standing dead hazard trees, and second, addressing dead and down trees that create hazardous fuels conditions adjacent to high value areas. After the priority of safety, forested areas with severe mortality will be reforested with the appropriate species (recovery). Forests will also be thinned to reduce the number of trees per acre and create more diverse stand structures to minimize extensive epidemic bark beetle areas (resiliency). This is a modest strategy that reflects current budget realities, but focuses resources in the most important places that can make a big difference to the safety of the American public.

There is no budget line item exclusively for bark beetle management; however, the agency is committed to providing a stable level of funding from existing budget line items to support safety, recovery and resiliency activities. Funding of $101.5 million will be maintained for each fiscal year, assuming appropriations remain equal to the FY 2010 level.