MISSISSIPPI — State and federal forest officials in Mississippi signed a Good Neighbor Authority agreement to help suppress the state’s unprecedented southern pine beetle epidemic that includes nearly 4,000 infestation spots on four ranger districts.
Using this authority, the Mississippi Forestry Commission may perform forest management services on National Forest System land, including treating disease-infected trees, reducing hazardous fuels to lessen the risk of wildfires and conducting other activities that will restore or improve forestland.
“We have an outstanding partnership with the state,” said National Forests in Mississippi Forest Supervisor Gretta Boley. “This agreement allows us to build on that collaborative partnership, to help each of our agencies, and ultimately, to create healthier forests that benefit all of Mississippi.”
“The Good Neighbor Authority agreement gives the Mississippi Forestry Commission the opportunity to help the National Forests in Mississippi accomplish their forest management objectives, including suppression of the recent southern pine beetle outbreak on national forestland,” said State Forester Charlie Morgan. “Collaboration with our federal partners to help stop the spread of the southern pine beetle is in the best interest of the MFC, the U.S. Forest Service and the private forest landowners of Mississippi.”
The southern pine beetle, a native species, is the most destructive forest pest in the South, both in economic and ecological impacts. Without proper treatment, an infestation can lead to large-scale pine mortality, potentially destroying valuable timber, habitat for threatened and endangered species, recreation areas infrastructure and other property values. Tree mortality may create safety hazards for visitors and employees and increase the potential for catastrophic wildfire.